ArtZuid: Amsterdam’s International Sculpture Route

Lydian BrunstingAmsterdam, Europe, Exhibitions, Sculpture, The Netherlands5 Comments

ArtZuid Amsterdam


Amsterdam’s International Sculpture Route

This post is part of the monthly ArtSmart Roundtable, a group of art-loving travel bloggers all writing about a common theme once a month. The theme of this month is Festivals and our pick is the festival-like event ArtZuid taking place in Amsterdam the coming months. Make sure to also check out the other contributions for this month, mentioned at the end of this post!

The summer is about to start again in Amsterdam. This usually means that the regular attractions in the centre of the Dutch capital are getting more and more crowded. For those who would like to avoid the hustle and bustle of the city centre for a bit, a great open-air exhibition just opened outside the city centre: the International Sculpture Route ArtZuid.

(update 1 May 2017: the next edition will take place from 19 May 2017 to 17 September 2017)


Georg Herold, Artzuid, Amsterdam

2.5 kilometers long art route

The biennial International Sculpture Route ArtZuid is a 2.5 kilometers long art route running through Amsterdam’s ‘Oud-Zuid’ (translated as ‘old-south’) neighborhood. The route consists of some 66 artworks by 21 different international artists and is one of those events we love to see coming back to Amsterdam every other year. The growing visitor numbers of each edition and the awards the event received, confirm its popularity. The last edition attracted around 380,000 national and international visitors. With this year’s set up we somehow expect this number to be even higher, at least if the Dutch weather cooperates.


Klaas Gubbels, ArtZuid 2015 Amsterdam

This year’s edition

For this fourth edition its curators Rudi Fuchs, former director of the Stedelijk Museum, and Maarten Bertheux chose for a different set-up compared to the three previous editions. Instead of displaying one single work of many different artists, this year ArtZuid focuses on a limited number of artists. ArtZuid, quite unusually, exhibits a group of sculptures by each individual artist, something we do see in museums, but hardly in an urban environment. Internationally acclaimed artists like Georg Baselitz, Jaume Plensa, Tony Gragg and KAWS all decided to contribute to this year’s edition.


KAWS ArtZuid 2015 Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Michael Craig-Martin, Artzuid 2015 Amsterdam

With the lush green urban space of the Minerva- and Apollolaan in Oud-Zuid as a starting point the artists and objects were all carefully selected by the ArtZuid team, in this way making sure that the beauty of each single sculpture would come out best at each different location. Something they succeeded in well, we are happy to confirm. While wandering through the route we noticed that each single object looks in proportion with its urban environment perfectly, while the groups of sculptures placed together also show a clear connection.

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Berlage’s Architecture

ArtZuid is not only about art though. Already when the private initiative was born back in 2008 the goal of ArtZuid was to not only display art, but to also highlight the result of the architect Berlage’s monumental Plan-Zuid. Although this will be interesting for architecture lovers in particular, it’s as interesting for other visitors and also for us Amsterdammers to learn more about part of our own city we often cross.

Let’s now just hope the summer will arrive in Amsterdam to enjoy the route at its best!


Georg Baselitz, ArtZuid 2015 Amsterdam



Jaume Plensa, ArtZuid, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Details & tips:

– This year ArtZuid event is on from 22 May until 20 September.

– The ArtZuid route can be found on the Apollolaan, the Minervalaan and part of the Zuid/ WTC area. From the Museumsquare – where one object can be found – it’s about 7 minutes walk to the Apollolaan. Alternatively take a tram. Line 2, 16 and 5 all stop either at or close to the art route.


Thomas Houseago, ArtZuid Amsterdam

– ArtZuid is accessible for free. You can get a map of the art route at the ArtZuid pavilion (Minervalaan 1, Amsterdam). Here you can also have a drink and/or bite and find the children’s atelier.

– Walking the whole art route would take you approximately 1,5-2 hours, keeping in mind you will take some pictures here and there. You can of course also take longer and for example have a pick-nick along the way.


Georg Herold, Artzuid, Amsterdam

– Like to learn more about the sculptures and the area? Download the ArtZuid Audiotour App or book a tour with a professional historian via the website of ArtZuid. The tours are available in English and Dutch. There’s also a catalog with more background information available.

– Would you like to have your children learn more about art too, or are you perhaps taking them along? The ArtZuid organization is also doing a good job of involving children. It has a special free educational program for schools in and around Amsterdam, who can use the material in class and visit the exhibition with their own teacher or upon request with a guide. Also, children can join the kids atelier during the weekends and on Wednesday afternoons and go on Art Camp during the summer.

2015-The-Netherlands-Amsterdam-ArtZuid-Sculpture-Route (6)


The other ArtSmart contributions for this month are:

Wanderfull Traveller – Art & Wine Festivals Around the World

Daydream Tourist –  Including Local Celebrations in Your Travels

Wanderarti – Explore the Arty Side of Europe This Summer With These Creative Festivals

This Is My Happiness – Summer Travel Inspiration: Festivals 2015

Interested to hear more from the ArtSmart Roundtable, like our Facebook page for regular updates too.


This Summer’s Must-See Exhibitions In Düsseldorf

Lydian BrunstingChina, Düsseldorf, ExhibitionsLeave a Comment


This Summer’s Must-See Exhibitions

In Düsseldorf, Germany


With 26 museums and over 100 galleries in town we can promise you that there’s no need to get bored in the German city of Düsseldorf. Yet, since time – and most likely your energy – is usually limited, we have selected this summer’s must-see art exhibitions in the city, which during the recent years established itself as an important centre for contemporary art, both nationally and internationally.


Wim Wenders – Landscapes. Photos.

until 16 August 2015

in Museum Kunstpalast

The Museum Kunstpalast is huge and whilst many of the other exhibitions on show will certainly be worthwhile viewing too, we would like to highlight one exhibition in particular, namely the exhibition ‘Landscapes. Photos.’ of the photographer – and movie director – Wim Wenders. Although Wim Wenders is internationally mostly known for his movies – like “Wings of Desire”, “Pina” or “The Salt Of The Earth”- , photography is the other half of his life, as the artist himself puts it. The exhibition is organized on the occasion of the artist’s 70th birthday and about 80 impressive large-scale photographs and landscape pictures of Wenders’ are shown in a pretty perfect exhibition hall. All pictures are by the way made without artificial lighting or tripod.


Exhibition Wim Wenders at Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf.


Japanese in Murano

until 20 September 2015

in Museum Kunstpalast

Although fairly small, the exhibition Japanese in Murano is one that will make a lasting impression because of the excellent glass objects on display, all being a result of combining the refined Japanese approach to the arts with the glass craftmanship of Murano. Exhibited are the art works of the three Japanese artists Kyohei Fujita, Yoichi Ohira and Yasuhiko Tsuchida. When visiting the exhibition make sure to watch the interesting documentary about the cooperation between Japanese artists and local craftsmen from Murano in the room in the back. The exhibition is organized in cooperation with the Glasmuseum Hentrich, which has an outstanding collection of glass art from Murano itself and is accessible with your entrance ticket to the Kunstpalast too.


Yoichi Ohira (geb. 1946), Vase „Cristallo Sommerso N. 31 – Scolpito”, Murano 2008. Ausführung Andrea Zilio und Giacomo Barbini. H. 19,3 cm.



Contemporary Art from China on the Rhine and Ruhr

until 13 September 2015

in NRW-Kunstforum and other

It is not often that you get the chance to look into the Chinese contemporary art world on such a large scale as during the exhibition China8. Contemporary Art from China on the Rhine and Ruhr. The exhibition takes place in 8 different cities and 9 museums along the rivers Rhine and Ruhr and shows 500 works of about 120 Chinese artists. Each museum will focus on a different type of contemporary art form, ranging from sculptures to painting to video installations to calligraphy and photography. The 8 in the exhibition title does not specifically refer to (just) the eight host cities, the number 8 is actually an important lucky number for the Chinese.


Sculpture by Yue Minjun in front of the NRW-Forum, Düsseldorf

The cities partaking in this exhibition are Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Essen, Gelsenkirche, Hagen, Marl, Mulheim An Der Ruhr and Recklinghausen. During the weekends there is a free guided shuttle bus service taking you from one location to the other. For details check the China8 exhibition website.


Miro. A Painter Among Poets

from 13 June to 27 September 2015

in Nordrhein-Westfalen K20 Grabbeplatz

Did you know that the Spanish artist Joan Miro had a lifelong interest in literature and poetry, and that this was a big source of inspiration for his art? Miro was in fact friends with many great writers of his time. The exhibition Miro. A Painter Among Poets in K20 – the museum for art of the 20th century – is fully devoted to these little known facts and through over 110 objects you’ll get a more profound insight Into how Miro combined words and images in his art objects.

ps. If you’re a fan of Miro’s, you might also like to visit the Rijksmuseum’s gardens in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, this summer. Various of Miro’s sculptures will be displayed in the museum’s gardens from 19 June to 11 October 2015.


Terra Incognita – Perception of landscape in the Present

until  14 June 2015

in KIT – Kunst im Tunnel

The exhibition space in the Rheinufertunnel, better known as Kunst im Tunnel (translated as ‘art in the tunnel’), is the place to discover young talent just graduated from the art academy. During the exhibition Terra Incognita – Perception of landscape in the Present you can see how these young artists approach the most traditional genre in imagery: the landscape. The artists all aim to depict the landscape as precisely as possible, yet still subjectively, creating interesting images and videos.


Imi Knoebel To Honour Malevich

until 30 August 2015

in Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen K21 Staendehaus

The German artist Imi Knoebel is one of the most important postmodernist artists on an international level and this summer you can see a number of his works during the exhibition Imi Knoebel To Honour Malevich at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen K21 Staendehaus, the museum for contemporary art of the 21st century. One of the artist that had an enormous influence on Imi Knoebel was Kazimir Malevich and the parallels are easy to draw, especially after seeing some of the works of Malevich, which are also part of the exhibition.


Imi Knoebel exhibition at K21, Düsseldorf

If you haven’t been to K21 before make sure to free some time to see the other exhibitions too, especially the interactive exhibition ‘In Orbit’ of Tomas Saraceno at the top floor. Whilst the building, the adjoining cafe and the art works on display are impressive and occasionally very entertaining, this can’t be said about the museum staff.


 Cody Choi. Culture Cuts

until 2 August 2015

in Kunsthalle Düsseldorf

The exhibition Cody Choi. Culture Cuts in the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf is the first retrospective worldwide of the Korean artist Cody Choi, who has an important role in the international art scene, especially by contributing to the intercultural dialog. The experience of being considered “Asian” in the United States, but “American” in Asia is one of his sources for inspiration for his work, in which he focuses on the issues around cultural socialization and assimilation. His art varies from paintings and drawings to sculptures and installations and computer graphics.


Have you been to any other exhibitions in Düsseldorf you think are worth visiting? Or do you know of interesting upcoming shows? Feel free to let us know in the comments or send us an email to wkndr at artweekenders dot com.


For more exhibitions around Europe, check our other articles in the section Exhibitions.


How The Night Watch and Art In General Survived The Second World War

Lydian BrunstingArtSmart Roundtable, Europe, Exhibitions4 Comments

Rembrandt Night Watch

How The Night Watch and Art In General Survived The Second World War

Just about a month ago the art world was shocked by one of the worst cases of deliberate destruction of an historic site since the Second World War, when the Islamic Party destroyed the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II in Nimrud, Iraq. Nimrud, being the seat of the ruler Ashurnasirpal II during the 9th century BC, was one of the world’s greatest cities in that era and thus, it was an area with important relics and artefacts. While my jaw dropped open when seeing the violence used to destroy this important heritage sight on the news, I started to reflect over the question how we actually managed to secure so many artworks during Second World War in Europe. While we nowadays regularly wander through museums containing centuries old art works, questioning the history and stories behind a painting, we hardly seem to reflect over the question how these works were preserved during the centuries and especially during wartimes.

Coincidentally the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam is currently paying some extra attention to this topic with the exhibition ‘The Stedelijk and the War‘ in light of the fact that this year The Netherlands is commemorating the 70 years anniversary of its liberation.

In addition, during the years different books have appeared about this topic, of which The Monuments Men is most likely the best known, having been made into a movie under the direction of George Clooney in 2014, revealing the astonishing stories of those securing and saving culture and art in the Second World War. A movie I just had to watch.

The Stedelijk Museum and The Second World War

Shocked and worried by seeing the effects of the Civil War in Spain in 1938 and the sanctions taken against Jewish artists after the empowerment of Hitler in 1933, Willem Sandberg, at the time conservator of the Stedelijk, took the important initiative to build a bunker in the dunes near Castricum, a village some 30 kilometers outside Amsterdam.

The bunker in Castricum. Photo Joh. de Haas, collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

The bunker in Castricum. Photo Joh. de Haas, collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

The ‘secret’ bunker, being the first of its kind, functioned as a place to store artworks of initially the Stedelijk and later on also of other museums, like the Rijksmuseum, and private collectors. Some 500 art collections in total – including those of Van Gogh‘s heirs and several Jewish collectors and Rembrandt‘s ‘Night Watch‘ – were stored here during the war, preventing them from falling into the hands of the German occupiers, who under the reign of the art lover Hitler looted art works throughout Europe and thus also The Netherlands.

The role the Stedelijk Museum played in securing centuries old art works during the Second World War has thus been crucial for the art world and what we can see of it in The Netherlands these days.

Art second world war Stedelijk-Museum-and-Second-World-War

De bunker bij Castricum, met werk van oa. Van Gogh. Foto Joh. de Haas, collectie Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam – See more at:

Apart from interesting details, videos and pictures of the bunker, the exhibition ‘The Stedelijk and The War‘ also tells us how the selection of art works took place. The more important they were considered in terms of quality or historical importance, the more priority they had to be kept safe in the bunker as soon as possible after the bunker was finished.

Anticipating that the German occupiers would perhaps one day discover the bunker, often limited details of the stored art works were noted, just not to leave any traces in regards to the original owner of the art works stored. Whereas this measure was mostly meant to protect the Jewish collectors, after the war this led to an enormous task for the Stedelijk to return all art works to the rightful owners. The exhibition also goes into the details of the national provenance research project ‘Museum Acquisitions after 1933′ through which some of the owners – but still not all – were found back.

Art Second World War Henri Matisse, Odalisque, 1921 (courtesy: Stedelijk)

Henri Matisse, Odalisque, 1921 (courtesy: Stedelijk) – once stored in the bunker

The exhibition ‘The Stedelijk Museum And The Second World War’ is on at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands until the 31st of May, 2015.

If you have no opportunity to visit the exhibition, make sure to have a look at this 17 minutes documentary showing how the Stedelijk Museum safeguarded art during the Second World War.

The Stedelijk Museum and the Second World War from ARTtube on Vimeo.


The Monuments Men

The story of the Monuments Men is one that for decades has been given little attention amidst all other heartbreaking stories about the Second World War. Wouldn’t it have been for Lynn H. Nicholas this story might not even had come to the surface at all.

When Nicholas read the obituary of a French woman spying on the Nazis looting art, she got interested what actually happened and started researching the topic in more depth. This research resulted in the publication of the book The Rape of Europe, a book that would be the forerunner of the book ‘The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History’ by Robert Edsel and the movie titled The Monuments Men, all telling the story about this small group of middle-aged men and (a few) women with that one important task: finding and saving art and constructions of cultural importance throughout Europe.

Art second world war Hitler and Goering with Painting (Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.)

Hitler and Goering with Painting (Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.)

Hitler, a former wannabe art scholar, did not only wish to build the Third Reich namely. Having a very great interest in the arts he also wished to build the greatest museum in Europe, the so-called Führermuseum in Linz, Austria. To this effect all art plundered and stolen by the Nazis would have to be put into his possession first, giving him the opportunity to select the artworks he would later display in this museum. An order that likely saved many artworks from destruction, but also went hand in hand with an other strict order by Hitler: in case the war would be lost, all artworks would have to be destroyed as soon as possible.

It was thus not an easy task that lay ahead of the Monuments Men, who somehow had to fulfill this important task of saving Europe’s art and culture in a war environment which was not supportive or understanding the importance of it at all, in fact it was often as a race against time. Yet, little by little with a lot of patience and persistence more and more historical constructions and art works were saved and found back, among which Bruges’ ‘Madonna and Child’ and the Ghent Altar Piece.

Art Second World War Heilbronn, Germany - 1946: This Self Portrait by Rembrandt, inspected by Monuments Men Dale V. Ford and Harry Ettlinger (right), was stored for safe-keeping by museum officals from Karlsruhe in the Heilbronn mine. The painting was ultimately returned to the Karlsruhe Museum. This was just one of thousands of paintings and other works of art which were found in Heilbronn as can be seen by the crates stacked behind each man. (National Archives and Records Administration, MD)

Heilbronn, Germany – 1946: This Self Portrait by Rembrandt, inspected by Monuments Men Dale V. Ford and Harry Ettlinger (right), was stored for safe-keeping by museum officals from Karlsruhe in the Heilbronn mine. The painting was ultimately returned to the Karlsruhe Museum. This was just one of thousands of paintings and other works of art which were found in Heilbronn as can be seen by the crates stacked behind each man. (National Archives and Records Administration, MD)

In total five million works of art are believed to have been saved by this great group of men, who risked their lives to save the art we can nowadays admire when walking through Europe’s finest museums.

Next time we’re visiting one of these museums we will certainly take a moment to reflect over this.


This post is part of the ArtSmart Roundtable (don’t forget to follow the page on Facebook), a group of art enthusiastic travel bloggers, with May’s topic being War & Peace. The other contributions for this month are:


Street Art Corner from Bologna’s Historic Centre

Lydian BrunstingBologna, Street Art1 Comment

street art bologna italy monkey

Street Art Corner from Bologna’s Historic Centre

Bologna never really hit me as a city where I would find a lot of street art, but being the hometown of Blu – one of the better known street artists around – I figured there should be some at least. And indeed, during our 24 hours stay in Bologna, shortly after attending the TBDI conference in Rimini, we did find some nice street art around while wandering through the historic centre of town.


Street art I Want To Be Free by Alessio B

It did strike us that the historic centre was fairly clean of street art – besides a lot of tagging – , and that we mainly had to go into the back alleys to find most of the art works. Some of the street art was only visible when the shops were closed off.


The bigger murals of artist like Blu, Alice Pasquino and others are mostly found outside the city centre. On this Google Map you’ll find a number of them. We saw some on the way from our hotel into the city, but were unfortunately not able to take any picture of  them, while in one of Bologna’s city buses.


Street art by Milo in Bologna, Italy


This below mural of a musician can be found in the historic centre on the house of the Italian musician and actor Lucio Dalla, who passed away in 2012. Musicians regularly gather at the corner across to play some live music. We hope and expect this mural will be kept and maintained as a tribute to the Bologna-born member of the Rheno Dixieland band. It totally fits into its surroundings, doesn’t it?



A lot of street art we encountered was full of symbolism, and often quite socially and emotionally tainted. Being one of the most leftist cities in Europe this will hardly come as surprise.



What struck us was that, where in many cities we often see a mixture of politically tainted street art and street art ‘just for fun’, in Bologna we hardly came across the latter one, as you can see from most of the pictures in this post. Have you by any chance come across some ‘happy’ street art in Bologna?


Street art Bologna 2014_paste_up_heart-tubes



Street art Bologna 2014_paste_up_parrot


This article about street art in Bologna is part of our ‘Street Art Corner’ series during which we showcase street art from around the world. Like to contribute to this series? Just send us a message at wkndr (at) artweekenders (dot) com. We would love to see more street art crossing our paths, either online or in real life.


Like to discover more street art? Have a look at the below street art articles we’ve previously published:


Curious Facts About the World Press Photo Exhibition

Pal UjvarosiAmsterdam, Exhibitions, Photography3 Comments

World Press Photo 2015

Curious Facts About the World Press Photo Exhibition

Ever since 1955, April is traditionally the month when the year’s winners of the World Press Photo contest are shown up for the eyes of the public through the main exhibition staged in Amsterdam. It’s always a highly anticipated event and there’s always enough buzz around it to turn it into one of the most visited exhibitions of the year. No exception this year, the anticipation is high. The World Press Photo Exhibition 2016 just opened its doors to the public in Amsterdam’s Nieuwe Kerk, just off of the city’s Dam Square, right in the heart of the centre, and the exhibition will be on until early July while it heads out into its traditional tour de force around the world already by the end of April.

Like to visit this year’s World Press Photo Exhibition? Have a look here for current and upcoming exhibitions around the world.  

Looking back at the 60 years since it’s humble beginnings, a lot has happened. There have been a fair share of controversies as well, maybe one of the biggest ones is in fact related to one of this year’s original winners. World Press Photo (WPP) is the most prestigious contest of photojournalism in the world, and the standards to maintain high quality are rigorous. However, in today’s fast-changing world, not the least in regards to technological development, the task becomes harder and harder. The same problem happened last year when one of the original winners of the 2015 prizes,  Giovanni Troilo, after a serial twist and turns of events eventually got stripped of his prize, amidst some controversy. Troilo’s Contemporary Issues series “The Dark Heart of Europe” – a supposed documentary about the Belgian town of Charleroi, which would serve as a symbol for a Europe in decline – turned out to be both staged and also included images from Brussels, totally against the guidelines of the WPP.

The official explanation and motivation for stripping Troilo of the prize confirmed that “the story was not in compliance with the entry rules and therefore the award must be revoked.” It’s worth to note, however, that while the work is still beautiful, thought-provoking and worthy, the problem with it is that it goes beyond journalism. The new winner of the Prize is another Italian, Giulio di Sturco, for his documentary of the booming Chinese film industry, entitled “Chollywood“. The main prize for the year highlights another current topic that has created controversy, namely the situation of the gay community in today’s Russia.

World Press Photo 2015 World Press Photo exhibition

Jon and Alex – The World Press Photo of the Year 2014 by Mads Nissen

But World Press Photo isn’t only about controversies, it’s much more than so. It is simply one of the most important stages for photo journalism and often mentioned in the same breath as the world-renowned Cartier-Bresson and Frank Capa founded Magnum Photo Agency – although the two organisations approach photo journalism from different angles. But what else has happened during these decades worth remembering? By highlighting some facts we’d like you to have a deeper understanding for the work carried out by the World Press Photo Board and encourage you to visit the exhibition in Amsterdam, or at some of the other locations where the exhibition will turn up later in the year. Where exactly? Please see at the end of this article.

The World Press Photo History

The first edition of the contest was initiated by the Dutch Journalists’ Union, who turned their earlier ‘Silver Camera‘ (‘Zilveren Camera‘ in Dutch) Award towards an international public with the aim of increasing the profile of their own members. The first edition attracted photographers from 11 countries and some 300 photos by some 42 photographers entered the contest. The growth was continuous in the decades that followed, with a dramatic explosion of contributions observed in the 1990s. Today the annual contests get contributions from well over 5,000 participants from around 125 countries, who together send in close to 100,000 photographs. The prize has been awarded yearly since 1955 with the exception of 1959, 1961 and 1970 when the contests were not held for various reasons.

The World Press Photo Categories

Back in 1955 the contest included just two categories, News and Sports for single images and Features and Picture Stories for photo stories. Slowly the repertoire got extended into further categories, for instance in 1965 the colour photo category got introduced. While names and categorisation changed over the decades, the organisation has maintained the same format, more or less, since the late seventies. Today the categories are – besides the most onerous World Press Photo of The Year – Spot News, General News, People, Sports, Contemporary Issues, Daily Life, Portraits and Nature.

The World Press Photo Jury

The first edition of the event had five jury members, from The Netherlands (naturally), Belgium, United Kingdom, West Germany and France. Soon enough the jury got extended and it was an early determination to make the prize global and involving members from the other side of the ‘Iron Curtain’ as well. Thus, WPP almost turned into a mini-United Nations. The political controversies were part of life in this setting as well, with jury members both from the United States and the Soviet Union, their votes often neutralising each other. Today the jury members come from industrial nations and the developing world, from West and East, from all manner of religious and political backgrounds. The composition of the jury changes every year and is carefully selected.

The World Press Photo Organisation

Not surprisingly, WPP is organised as a foundation with its base in Amsterdam and is run as an independent, non-profit organisation. Since the 1960s the foundation has had full-time employees to currently have some 30 people employed. The main activities of WPP include the organisation of the annual contest, the related exhibitions, the stimulation of photojournalism through educational programs and the WPP Academy, and to create visibility for press photography through a variety of publications.

The World Press Photo Legacy

While each year we curiously look at our world through the lenses of the WPP photographers and the the year’s documented current events, it is important to keep in mind that the WPP archives are an important part of our history. A lot has happened since the 1950s and the resulting archive of partaking and winning images is not only a record of more than half a century of human history, but also a documentary of the importance and development of photojournalism, and actually photography as an art form.

The World Press Photo Fame

Some of the past winners of the World Press Photo of The year Awards are nowadays iconic images of our modern history. If we would highlight the most important ones it would be impossible not to mention the ‘Tank Man’ from the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, a symbol for the momentous change that took place in China soon thereafter. The major breakthrough of the WPP to be considered is, however, the images from the Vietnam War and specifically the 1972 winner of the haunting image of the naked children fleeing after the napalm bomb attack mistakenly dropped by South Vietnam on its own population, an image that likely contributed to the increased opposition in America against the War.

World Press Photo 1989 award Tiananmen Square World Press Photo exhibition

1989, Charlie Cole, World Press Photo of the Year, World Press Photo of the Year

The World Press Photo Tour of the World

While the most important exhibition the WPP Foundation organises is the one in Amsterdam’s Nieuwe Kerk on Dam Square, the exhibition visits numerous locations around the world, thereby increasing the possibility for many more to see the year in retrospect and increase awareness for the world around us. This year already the last weekend of April will be the start for some of the satellite exhibitions. Here you can find an overview.



Photo Festivals Europe 2015

Lydian BrunstingArt Fairs, Europe, Exhibitions, PhotographyLeave a Comment


Did you also notice that photo festivals have been popping up like mushrooms during the last, let’s say, ten years? Or at least this seems to be the case for Europe.

Where art fairs are slowly getting more accessible for the general audience, photo festivals have generally attracted a larger crowd for years already, for the simple reason that photos are much more accessible than many other art forms, or as the British photographer Hannah Starkey said in History is Now:

[blockquote type=”left”]Photography is something that we’re closer to than any other kind of art form. It is a universal language that we all have a vested interest in … [/blockquote]

The fact that during the last decade it has become much easier to take some nice pictures for many of us, thanks to the digital photography (r)evolution, certainly contributes to this. Photo festivals can be inspiring, entertaining and a learning experience for the professional and the amateur photographer.

The Swedish media-duo Johan Rheborg and Henrik Schyffert also respond to this phenomenon with their television series We’re all photographers or Alla är fotografer in Swedish, always a fun and interesting watch, although I always have to ask Pal to translate, since the series have no English subtitles so far.

And to be honest, somehow it feels photo festivals never disappoint, maybe exactly for the above reasons. Sometimes you’ll learn about new topics through the photos you see, other times you’ll explore a cute, little town while wandering from one great exhibition venue to the other. Photo festivals abroad can also have this extra dimension of seeing the country from a different, local perspective, like we experienced for example last year during Riga’s PhotoMonth, during which we got to learn much more about Latvia and its citizens than we otherwise could have learned.

Spring seems to be the time of the year when the photo festival season fully starts again. We compiled a list of the photo festivals taking place throughout Europe, to be extended with an International overview of photo festivals soon too. In the course of the weeks we’re adding short descriptions of every single festival, so you easily know what to expect from which festival, and make your choice which festival(s) to visit. Just click on the menu items for more information.

Do you happen to know of a photo festival that is not on the list? Or have you been to any of these festivals and like to tell us about your experience? Feel free to share with us in the comments or send us an email at wkndr (at) artweekenders (dot) com. We like hearing from you!


(last update 23 July)

The links to this list appears to be broken, we’re currently solving this. Get back to us within a couple of days and the list should be available again!

[accordion][accordion_item title=”World Press Photo Amsterdam, 18 April – 5 July in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) + 45 other cities worldwide” open=”true”]As far as you are not yet familiar with the World Press Photo exhibition, this is a major international photo exhibition covering press photography, which is already organized annually since 1955. The photos exhibited are the prize winners for different categories – varying from general news to nature and sports – , carefully selected by an international jury of leading professionals in the field of photojournalism.
The exhibition starts in Amsterdam in the Nieuwe Kerk, after which it travels to 100 cities in 45 countries. For more information about the exhibition check: World Press Photo and our recently published article Curious Facts About The World Press Exhibition[/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordion” title=”Nordic Light Festival, 21 – 25 April/ 28 June in Kristiansund (Norway)” open=”false”] The Nordic Light International Festival of Photography celebrates photography as an art form. During the festival week there will be activities like presentations and portfolio reviews, all aiming to create a better understanding of good photography in the companionship of some top photographers.

Most of the photo exhibitions are open until 28 June and are at the Nordic Light – House of Photography and the Jonas Eriksen Gallery in Kristiansund, Norway,  which is situated at a beautiful location on the north-west coast of Norway.

For more information visit Nordic Light Festival. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordion” title=”World Photo London, 27 April – 20 May in London (United Kingdom)” open=”false”]World Photo London. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordion” title=”Riga Photo Month, 29 April – 21 June in Riga (Latvia)” open=”false”]Riga Photo Month. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordion” title=”Kolga Tblisi Photo, 1 – 5 May in Tblisi (Georgia)” open=”false”]Kolga Tblisi Photo. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”PhotoOn Festival, 4 – 9 May in Valencia (Spain)” open=”false”]PhotoOn Festival . [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”European Festival of Nude Photography, 7 – 17 May in Arles (France)” open=”false”]European Festival of Nude Photography. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Rovinj Photodays, 8-9 May in Rovinj (Croatia)” open=”false”]Rovinj Photodays. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Fotolink, 10 May – 7 June in Knokke (Belgium)” open=”false”]Fotolink. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Naarden Photofestival, 14 May – 21 June in Naarden (The Netherlands) ” open=”false”]The Naarden Photofestival is a biannual photofestival organized in the city of Naarden, some 15 kilometers from Amsterdam. The festival mainly focusses on the developments in Dutch photography, although there are also some international photographers exhibiting this year, and the emphasis is on storytelling instead of documentary photography. The central theme of this year’s festival is ‘water’, a theme presented differently by all photographers participating. You can expect names like Frans Lanting, Kadir van Loohuizen and Jimmy Nelson on this year’s edition, but also new and upcoming talents. The festival is spread over different locations throughout this cute little town, which is surrounded by large 17th-century fortications, said to be some of the best preserved ones in Europe. Check Naarden Photofestival for more information (website in Dutch only)[/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”London Photo Festival, 14 – 16 May in London (United Kingdom)” open=”false”]London Photo Festival. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Krakow Photomonth Festival, 14 May – 14 June in Krakow (Poland)” open=”false”]Krakow Photomonth Festival. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”LOOK, 15 May – 31 May in Liverpool (United Kingdom)” open=”false”]LOOK. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Fotografia Europea, 15 May – 26 July in Reggio Emilia (Italy)” open=”false”]Fotografia Europea. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Photo Romania Festival, 15 -24 May in Cluj-Napoca (Romania)” open=”false”]Photo Romania Festival. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Docfield, 19 May – 18 July in Barcelona (Spain)” open=”false”]Docfield. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Photo London, 21 – 24 May in London (United Kingdom)” open=”false”]Photo London. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Photometria, 27 May – 7 June in Ionnina (Greece)” open=”false”]Photometria. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Fotorama Fest, 28 -31 May in Kragujevac (Serbia)” open=”false”]Fotorama Fest. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”PhotoMed, 28 May – 21 June in Sanary-sur-Mer (France)” open=”false”]PhotoMed. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Fotofestiwal, 28 May – 9 June 2015 in Lodz (Poland)” open=”false”]Fotofestiwal. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Festival Photo La Gacilly, 5 June – 30 September in La Gacilly (France)” open=”false”]Festival Photo La Gacilly. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Photo España, 3 June – 30 August in Madrid (Spain) ” open=”false”]Photo España Latinamarican photography. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Copenhagen Photo Festival, 4 June – 14 June in Copenhagen (Denmark)” open=”false”]Copenhagen Photo Festival. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Festival Sportfolio, 4 June – 21 June in Narbonne (France)” open=”false”]Festival Sportfolio. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Belfast Photo Festival, 4 June – 30 June in Belfast (Ireland)” open=”false”]Belfast Photo Festival. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Belfast Photo Fringe, 1 June – 30 June in Belfast (Ireland)” open=”false”]Belfast Photo Fringe. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Portraits, 12 June – 6 September in Vichy (France)” open=”false”]Portraits. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Pa-ta-ta Festival, 15 – 21 June in Granada (Spain)” open=”false”]The Pa-ta-ta festival aims to connect photography, the people, the street and the city to make us learn more about photography, understand it better and above all to appreciate it more.

Apart from exhibitions there are different interactive gatherings and guided tours. If you don’t speak or understand Spanish, check upfront whether these gatherings are in English or not. The website of the Pa-ta-ta Festival is only available in Spanish at the date of writing.

The photo exhibitions will not only be at the squares of the city, some exhibitions will also be held in buildings normally closed for the public.


[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Triennale of Photography Hamburg, 18 June – 28 June in Hamburg (Germany)” open=”false”]Triennale of Photography Hamburg. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Warm Festival, 28 June – 4 July in Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)” open=”false”]Warm Festival. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Antiparos Photo Festival, 4 July – 13 July in Antiparos (Greece)” open=”false”]Antiparos Photo Festival. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Bilbao Photoexperience, 5 – 7 June in Bilbao (Spain)” open=”false”]Bilbao Photoexperience. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”PhotoIreland, 1 – 31 July 2015 in Dublin (Ireland)” open=”false”]PhotoIreland. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Rencontres d’Arles, July 6 – September 20 in Arles (France)” open=”false”]Rencontres d’Arles. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Cortona On The Move, July 16- September 27 in Cortona (Italy)” open=”false”]Cortona On The Move . [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Landskrona Fotofestival, 20 August – 30 August in Landskrona (Sweden)” open=”false”]Landskrona Fotofestival. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”PhotoIreland, 1 – 31 July 2015 in Dublin (Ireland)” open=”false”]PhotoIreland. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Visa Pour L’Image, 29 August – 13 September in Perpignan (France)” open=”false”]Visa Pour L’Image . [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Noorderlicht September, 1 – October 11 in Groningen (The Netherlands)” open=”false”]Noorderlicht. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Map Festival de la Photo Amateur, September 1 – September 30 in Toulouse (France)” open=”false”]Map Festival de la Photo Amateur. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Getxophoto, September 3 – October 4 in Getxo (Basque Country, Spain)” open=”false”]Getxophoto. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Fotoweek, 11 – 20 September throughout The Netherlands” open=”false”]Fotoweek. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Manifesto Festival d’Images, 18 September – 3 October in Toulouse (France)” open=”false”]Manifesto Festival d’Images. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Unseen Photo Fair, 18-20 September in Amsterdam (The Netherlands)” open=”true”]This year is already the fourth edition of the popular international photo fair Unseen, which is focusing on young talent and previously unseen works, both of upcoming and established photographers. It is the first year though that the festival will also be extended to the city, so expect to see part of the festival around Amsterdam too during the festival days. For more details visit Unseen Photo Fair. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Les Nuits Photographiques, 18 September – 15 December in Paris (France)” open=”false”]Les Nuits Photographiques. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Fotofestival Mannheim Ludwigshafen Heidelberg, 18 September  – 15 November in Mannheim, Ludwigshafen and Heidelberg (Germany)” open=”false”]Fotofestival Mannheim Ludwigshafen Heidelberg. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Encontros da Imagem, 25 September – 31 October in Braga (Portugal)” open=”false”]Encontros da Imagem. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Diffusion, 1- 31 October in Cardiff (United Kingdom)” open=”false”]Diffusion. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Photoreporter Festival 3 October – 1 November in Baie de Saint Brieuc (Bretagne, France)” open=”false”]Photoreporter Festival. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”International Photo Festival Leiden  10 -31 October in Leiden (The Netherlands)” open=”false”]International Photo Festival Leiden. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Lugano Photo Days 16 – 25 October in Lugano (Switzerland)” open=”false”]Lugano Photo Days. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Foto Art Festival 16 – 30 October in Bielsko-Biala (Poland)” open=”false”]Foto Art Festival . [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Bursa Photofest 24 – 28 October in Istanbul (Turkey)” open=”false”]Bursa Photofest. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Fotonoviembre November in Tenerife (Spain)” open=”false”]Fotonoviembre. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Malmo Photo Biennal 11 – 20 November in Malmo (Sweden)” open=”false”]Malmo Photo Biennal. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Paris Photo 12-15 November 2015 in Paris (France)” open=”false”]Paris Photo. [/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Fotofever 13 – 15 November in Paris (France)” open=”false”]Fotofever.[/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Photolux 21 November – 13 December in Lucca (Italy)” open=”false”]Photolux.[/accordion_item]

[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Organ Vida International Photography Festival September in Zagreb (Croatia)” open=”false”]Organ Vida International Photography Festival.[/accordion_item]


[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Photo Festivals dates to be confirmed” open=”false”]

More Photo Festivals Europe 2015 – of which the dates are to be confirmed at the date of writing of this article:

Kaunas Photo in Kaunas (Lithuania)

Fotoleggendo in Rome (Italy)

f/ Stop in Leipzig (Germany)

Off Festival in Bratislava (Slovakia)

Festival Internationale de la Photographie de Mode in Cannes (France)

Fotografia – Festival Internazionale di Roma in Rome (Italy)

Photography Biennale  in Mulhouse (France)

Photo Levallois in Levallois (France)

BredaPhoto in Breda (The Netherlands)

Scan in Tarragona (Spain)

Outono Fotografica in Galiza (Spain)

Grid Photofestival different locations worlwide

Planche(s) Contact in Deauville (France)

Rendez Vous Images in Strasbourg (France)



[accordion_item parent_id=”accordian” title=”Photo Festivals 2016″ open=”false”]

Photo festivals (likely) first taking place in 2016 again:

Photomarket in Stockholm (Sweden)

BruggeFoto in Bruges (Belgium)

Milan Image Art Fair in Milan (Italy)

Format in Derby (Ireland)

Festival Circulations in Paris (France)

Festival Pluie d’ Images in Brest (France)

Fotografija Godine BiH in Sarajevo (Bosnia)

Mois de la Photo November in Paris (France)

Mesiac Fotografie in Bratislava (Slovakia)

Eyes On European Month Of Photography in Vienna (Austria)

Fotohonap European Month of Photography in Budapest (Hungary)

Photonic Moments European Month of Photography in Ljubljana (Slovenia)

Month of Photography Berlin in Berlin (Germany)

Brighton Photo Biennial in Brighton (United Kingdom)

Transphotographique in Lille (France)

BIP in Liege (Belgium)

AliBaBa Photo Festival in La Cueva (Murcia, Spain)

Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography Biel (Switzerland)

Tblisi Photo Festival in Tblisi (Georgia)

DusseldorfPhotoweekend in Dusseldorf (Germany)

Si Fest in Savignano sul Rubicone (Italy)

Helsinki Photo Biennal in Helsinki (Finland)

Transphotographique in Lille (France)

Lumix Festival for young photojournalism in Hannover (Germany)

Photobiennale in Greece

Summer of Photography in Brussels (Belgium)

The Eye International Photography Festival in Aberystwyth (Wales, United Kingdom)

Images, Vevey (Switzerland)

Photography Oxford in Oxford (United Kingdom)

Guernsey Photography Festival in Guernsey (France)

2017: Backlight Festival in Tampere (Finland)


Jeff Koons: The Retrospective – Artist or Marketeer?

Pal UjvarosiBilbao, Exhibitions, Jeff Koons, Paris, Pop ArtLeave a Comment

Jeff Koons: The Retrospective

Jeff Koons: The Retrospective – Artist or Marketeer?

My first memory of Jeff Koons is from the late 1980s when his “Made in Heaven” exhibition – mainly containing sexually explicit photographs and sculptures featuring himself and the Hungarian-Italian porn-star, later wife of Koons’s, Cicciolina (a.k.a Ilona Staller) – reached the news. Not only did it reach the news world of the arts, but even the prime-time news-hour on Swedish television. I remember watching the evening news on the family sofa and when the sequence came on I got sheepishly shocked, just like any teenager around the age of 15 would be in the face of something sex-related in the company of his parents. Of course, it was a big deal; not only for me, the whole world talked about it. What I also remember is my mother’s outcry: how can this be considered art? Alright, my mother is not well-travelled in the art world, but the question was valid then, and for many it’s still valid today. And it has nothing to do with sex even. A lot has happened since, but Jeff Koons somehow remained controversial throughout his career. Or at least that’s how it comes across.


Fast forward to the present. Now years later, upon a recent visit to Paris we took the chance for a closer look at the Centre Pompidou‘s long-awaited and highly hyped exhibition Jeff Koons: The Retrospective. A few decades later it’s really not the Heaven that is etched to people’s minds about Koons. In recent years it’s mainly the “inflatable” sculptures of the balloon dog and others in this series that has remained a Koons-symbol for most people and made Jeff Koons a much talked about name of contemporary art. It has certainly also helped, that when it comes to art auctions somehow Jeff Koons always pulls it off and makes the headlines for the most expensive art works ever sold. Especially his sculptures are the much talked-about items, his paintings in general have a smaller role to play in his famous oeuvre. Also his large-scale public installations have often caught people’s interest, although it’s been many years now since the latest big hit of the ‘Puppy‘, which attracted admiration worldwide throughout the 1990s.


Historic Controversies

Centre Pompidou is the perfect place for the Koons Retrospective. It felt all along like a good match, as there is something glittery about both, but at the same time now in 2015 the two almost feel like made for another time. Koons and France have a long history and the artist has always been popular in France, or at least popular to stir controversies around. In the country of the dadaist giant Marcel Duchamp, to whom Jeff Koons is often compared, this association is not always necessarily appreciated. Koons is indeed an artist who is often a hot topic for arguments, be it about his artistic style or about the person. If we would take a sweep among the quotes circulating around, it’s soon going to be obvious that the crowd is divided, there’s no denying. If we would measure art alone by how much controversy it can stir up, Koons could easily be confirmed a highly influential and successful artist. Here’s just a quick round-up of some of the most memorable quotes about the American artist, often referred to as the last member of the pop art era.

Some praise from Jerry Saltz on

“No one straddled the cosmic divide between innocence and cunning, hilarity and insidiousness, as effectively as Koons.”

Admiration is also confirmed by some loving words from Amy Dempsey for “Balloon Dog” in the magazine Styles, Schools and Movements:

“An awesome presence…a massive durable monument.”


But then it’s easy to quickly find loads of sour words about Koons and his art as well. Here’s for instance Mark Stevens who said the following in The New Republic already back in 1992 (hard not to wonder what he would say today):

“Decadent artist [who] lacks the imaginative will to do more than trivialize and italicise his themes and the tradition in which he works… He is another of those who serve the tacky rich.”

And then my personal favourite from 2014 in The Guardian, written by Robert Hughes who claims the following about Koons:

“An extreme and self-satisfied manifestation of the sanctimony that attaches to big bucks. Koons really does think he’s Michelangelo and is not shy to say so. The significant thing is that there are collectors, especially in America, who believe it. He has the slimy assurance, the gross patter about transcendence through art, of a blow-dried Baptist selling swamp acres in Florida. And the result is that you can’t imagine America’s singularly depraved culture without him.”

If we jump ahead into present day’s criticism, not surprisingly, also “Jeff Koons: The Retrospective” at Paris’ Centre Pompidou had a few reviewers riled up, like Anne de Koninck in the French Slate (English translation via

“But what happened to Jeff Koons? Once the agent provocateur in the late 1980s, he became one of the safest icons and especially the most profitable of an artistic scene that comes too often with financial superlatives. The contemporary artist claims that his art should be “accessible to the greatest number,” but he has won several times the title of most expensive living artist…”


So What to Make Out Of “Koons: The Retrospective”?

The exhibition summarises Koons’s career in chronological order: from his early works of cheap inflatables bought in budget stores in Manhattan, placed in front of mirrors, to the most recent “Gazing Ball” series from 2013. The exhibition goes in a U-shape through the Pompidou Centre’s fifth floor where clearly defined sections are taking the visitor through the soon four decades that Koons made a splash in the art world. The common thread through it all is the glittery, kitsch-like atmosphere, where the shining stainless steel is the common denominator. The kitsch-prize in the collection goes without hesitation to the Banality series from the mid-nineties, with ‘Michael Jackson and Bubbles‘ porcelain statue as the ultimate showcase of tackiness, or style, if you so please.


Some parts are definitely more eye-catching than others: it’s no secret that the highlight for most visitors will be the “Balloon Dog” section of the exhibition and the related works in the series, like the “Hanging Heart”, also having the most prominent place in the Pompidou’s hall. The latter – a version of it sold for US$23.6 million in 2007 – and some of the other works on display are among the works that set several world records for the most expensive art works ever sold by a living artist, so they are quite big deals really. There is indeed something special about the contrast symbolised by the heaviness of the material used for each statue, and the seeming lightness the motifs give the impression of. A contrast that plays with the mind quite a bit, and a contrast that Jeff Koons often used in his works.


While walking through the exhibition a fun part of the experience was to eavesdrop a bit, or at least to observe the reactions of people. Just like my mother 25 years ago, it was quite obvious that many were posing themselves the question of how can this “tasteless kitsch” be considered art. One thing what seemed to be common for most visitors was that they were actually entertained, even if judging from facial expressions, not necessarily every person loved it. Likely not everyone would admit this, but the signs were obvious, people in general had fun. The same was our experience: it was entertaining, glittery, and yes, even quite thought-provoking in its banality. The triviality by the way is almost exaggerated – at least in my opinion – by the overly descriptive descriptions for the art works: it’s not often that I came across plaques telling me what an art work really is supposed to mean, it almost felt like the curator didn’t want to leave much for the personal interpretation. ‘This is what Jeff meant, now live with it’.


Jeff Koons: Modern-Day Dadaist or the Best Marketeer in the Art World?

Exactly that part around the questions of banality is what makes the exhibition interesting on another level. It is easy to draw the parallels to Marcel Duchamp when you really look deeper into the matter, thus the comparison is understandable, at least at first glance – and take the art work descriptions at face value. There is definitely a common thread around the banality of life, be it the floating basket balls in the aquarium, the weirdness of commercials being transformed into art by simply getting it framed, or the silliness of the Inflatable Hulk or Popeye. It is somehow poking fun at the commercialised lifestyle we have, but at the same time it’s impossible to ignore the fact that what really seems to be driving Jeff Koons is making money.


A lot of his critics also claim that he’s not even a technically skilled artist, since he designs the concepts, but is not actually involved in the production of the works; his assistants take care of it. Maybe there’s a point in that, but it’s hard to fully buy it, after all he was clearly showing signs of artistic talent as a student at School of the Art Institute of Chicago and even got Salvador Dali’s blessing. In any case, the part about his artistic skills we leave to those who are better equipped for that debate. One thing is certain, Jeff Koons was a driven artist throughout his life and it’s quite obvious that he seemingly had high focus on his commercial artistry.


Jeff Koons: The Retrospective‘ is ultimately a great opportunity to try to decipher the enigma around Jeff Koons, what made his success so huge and groundbreaking. There’s also plenty of time to ponder over of his artistic capabilities and ask yourself the eternal question of what art really is meant to be. Or you can choose not to and focus instead on the business aspect of his art: is a stainless steel heart hanging from a cable really worth more than the GDP of the poorest nations on our planet, and how is that even possible? The two hours spent between his glittery sculptures and colourful paintings is in any case a fitting entertainment park and even if you will come to the conclusion that you can’t stand Jeff Koons you will likely have a little bit of fun. The shock factor? Nah, don’t count much on it. Not only did the 15 year old me grew up since 1989, but it also feels like Jeff Koons got lazy since. The final part of the exhibition, focusing on the latest decade of his career felt quite uninspiring. The edge is gone, but the glitter is still there. If it’s the right medium for our times? Likely not, but the Jeff Koons era seems to be a seemingly strange and fitting memento of those final two decades of the 20th century when superficiality became a norm of our society.


‘Jeff Koons: The Retrospective’ in 2015

If you are in Paris during the spring, ‘Jeff Koons: The Retrospective‘ is on at the Centre Pompidou until April the 27th. The Centre Pompidou has very friendly opening hours, so even if you are in Paris for a business trip there is time to go for a late night showing, if you can sneak away. It is normally open until 9 pm, with Thursday being the exception when the galleries are open all the way until 11 pm. The regular admission fee is 14 Euros. On the Centre Pompidou website you can find out more, or if you are interested in general Paris museum tips, check out our article ‘15 Tips To Get More Out Of Your Paris Museum Visits‘.

After Paris ‘Jeff Koons: The Retrospective‘ moves down to the Basque Country in Spain. From June 9th until September 27th 2015 the exhibition is visiting the Guggenheim Bilbao. The admission at the Guggenheim is 11 Euros and most nights the museum is open until 8 pm.







The World’s Best Open-Air Museums

Pal UjvarosiArt Parks, ArtSmart Roundtable, Sculpture7 Comments


The World’s Best Open-Air Museums

Spring is in the air, a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed for us members of the ArtSmart Roundtable, a group of culturally focused travel bloggers. For this month’s round of articles the focus is naturally on the warmer, brighter season ahead. The theme for the month is ‘spring‘. For us it will be a good reason to head out into the fresh air and locate the world’s best open-air museums. What the other members of the group are planning? Count on something similar: you can find all the other articles linked to at the end of this article. Enjoy!

It can successfully be argued that when the weather is getting nicer, finding the right arguments for hanging out in museums is becoming harder. Not as there aren’t plenty of good reasons. Escaping the scorching sun into the coolness of a museum can be the smartest choice on any hot August-day in for example Tuscany, Paris or New York. There are also good reasons to escape unexpected torrential downpours, or even fleeing the beach with the crowds when you have unexpected and compelling alternatives, like in Alicante where some great museums are just steps away from the beach. But in general we will agree, if the weather is pleasant there are few good reasons for going inside.

There are in any case many good options where you can combine art and outdoorsy activities. You can be out in the sun, enjoy the fresh breeze in your face and have a wonderful art-filled experience. But where exactly shall we go to find the world’s best open-air museums? We have our list of favourites ready, some we have visited already, some we wish to, and the combination of the two is what we’re going to share with you here. In our list below we travel from our front door here in The Netherlands to America, from Japan to Brazil and from there to some remote corners of Eastern Europe. Through the outskirts of Nordic capitals we head south to Catalonia to even land on the other side of the world in New Zealand.

Some of our choices presented here are pure open-air museums, many of which are naturally sculpture parks. Some are museums with a huge open-air section, while a part of the museum is in the more traditional indoor setting. What they all have in common is that being in the open air is a big part of the experience.


Kröller-Müller Museum

In the Hoge Veluwe National Park, The Netherlands

This park might still be a secret for most visitors to the Netherlands, but it is definitely well worth the detour from the usual route most tourists follow in the Amsterdam/Rotterdam area. Located close to the German border nearby the city of Arnhem, this museum is located inside the Hoge Veluwe National Park, a beautiful and in many ways surprising part of the Netherlands. The museum is the creation of a visionary collector, Ms. Helene Kröller-Müller, who established the museum during the first decades of the 20th century. Many people don’t know that the fame Vincent Van Gogh today enjoys likely wouldn’t have happened without the tireless efforts of Ms. Helene Kröller-Müller, who was one of the first major collectors of the Dutch master.


Kroller Muller Museum, The Netherlands.

Today you will find the second largest collection of Van Gogh’s in the world here. But the Kröller-Müller Museum is much more: the fantastic estate it is located on, serves as an open-air sculpture park and in summer also exhibitions and performances are arranged. If you get tired of the art, you can just jump on the bicycles provided free of charge and head out into the national park and enjoy the beautiful scenery the park offers. Last year we visited the park for a day, which was a fantastic, fun and beautiful experience. You can read more about it in our article An Art Day at the Kröller-Müller Museum.



Louisiana Museum & The Sculpture Park

North of Copenhagen, Denmark

A somewhat similar experience to the above mentioned Kröller-Müller Museum is Denmark’s Louisiana. While it is a museum mainly famous for its world-class – temporary – contemporary art exhibitions and the permanent collection of 3,500 pieces, ranging from Picasso to Warhol and the richest Danish art collection in the world, it is also world-famous for its sculpture park, likely one of the best ones in the world.

When Louisiana was established in 1958, one of the most important goals of the founders was just that: making Louisiana a famous place for sculpture. The park eventually expanded and the interaction with the semi-circle shaped architecture of the main buildings and the seaside location, overlooking the Sound with Sweden on the other side of the water, created a unique environment. The collection kept on growing over the decades and today here you will find all the modern masters of the art of sculpturing, like Alexander Calder, Joan Miró, Henry Moore, Jean Arp, Max Ernst, Richard Serra and many-many more. Did we say that Louisiana also has one of the most important Giacometti collections in the world?


If you visit Copenhagen this is a must, especially in summertime, when a stroll on the Louisiana Museum estate will remain a memorable experience for always. The Louisiana Museum is located 40 kilometres north of the city centre and you can read more about it in our article about the Copenhagen art museums or on the site of the Louisiana Museum itself.


The Vigeland Sculpture Park

Oslo, Norway

The Vigeland Sculpture Park is a unique place in the world, being the biggest sculpture park including the works of one artist only. The Vigeland Sculpture Park was mainly completed between 1939 and 1949 and it is the life work of the Norwegian sculptor, Gustav Vigeland. The park consists of some 200 works, sculptures of bronze, granite and wrought iron. Since the park was created in collaboration with the artist himself, all details bare his testimony including the architecture. The park is accessible day and night, every single day of the year and it’s totally free.

Vigeland Sculpture Park Oslo

Frogner Park Bridge | © Ignaz Wiradi/Wikimedia Commons

The park also includes a sculpture museum, the de facto sculpture museum of the Norwegian capital. You can read more about the park on the official site of the Vigeland Museum, and learn everything you need to know about the art museums in Oslo in our article. This park is Oslo’s most visited attraction and you can prepare yourself for some weird images, such as a man fighting flying babies or a woman wresting with giant lizard, or why not a ‘Manneken Piss‘-resembling boy statue doing a weird angry dance.


Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum with Benesse House

Naoshima Island, Japan

Until the late 1980’s the island of Naoshima carried on its sleepy existence more or less undisturbed, where fishing has been the main activity over many centuries. But thanks to the visionary ideas of the art lover Tetsuhiko Fukatake and the mayor of Naoshima, the island has been transformed into the most exciting contemporary art destination in the world. Upon the plans conceived, work has been carried out and the island has been transformed into a living museum with different complexes and loads of exciting ideas. Among the most prominent works of art you can find here are works by Niki de Saint Phalle, Karel Appel, Alberto Giacometti, Walter de Maria and many-many more. You can find out almost everything in our hugely popular article about the island here: The Art Island of Naoshima.


Giant pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama, Naoshima, Japan.


Dali’s Portlligat

Portlligat/Cadaqués – Catalonia, Spain

In the outskirts of the seaside village of Cadaqués in Catalonia’s Costa Brava region, you will find Salvador Dali’s beloved home in Portlligat. Today this is one of the main museums of the so-called Dalinian triangle, which has its epicentre in Figueres where the surrealist giant was born (read more about it in our huge guide to the Dalinian Triangle here).

Portlligat Dali House

Part of the Dali House in Portlligat, Spain

This villa converted into a museum was Dali’s most beloved possession and you will realise why. The surroundings are fantastic, the view from the grounds superb. It’s a perfect outing for getting to know the artist a bit more intimately, while enjoying a bit of that special Costa Brava idyll you can find here. This is an excursion we can warmly recommend: why not combining it with a night or two in the main village of beautiful Cadaqués and touring the other sites of the Dalinian Triangle from here?


Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden

Garavicchio, Grossetto, Italy

If you find yourself in Tuscany – and by the way, please pay special attention to Alexandra‘s ArtTrav-article about the Tuscan art parks in the links at the bottom of the article, there are loads of them – keep in mind that art in the region is not “just” about Giotto, the Renaissance and all that comes with it in Florence, Siena and otherwise. There’s also a pocket reserved for modern art in a place called Garavicchio, in the Grossetto province, where you can find Niki de Saint Phalle‘s sculpture park tucked into the beautiful Tuscan surroundings.

Niki de Saint Phalle's Tarot Garden

Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden

Inspired by Gaudi’s Park Güell in Barcelona, the park became the life project of the artist who purchased the land in the late 1970’s with the idea of creating this park of her dreams. The park finally opened in 1998 and today it’s a beloved art destination. It contains 22 monumental figures constructed of reinforced concrete and covered with mirrors and ceramic mosaic, representing the greater mysteries of the tarot.


The Hakone Open-Air Museum

Japan’s Hakone Mountains

There seems to be something with Japan and their love for open-air sculpture parks. Besides Naoshima (see above), there’s a second great reason to venture off the usual Japanese tourism trail: the sculpture park in the Hakone Mountains, some 2-3 hours south of Tokyo, not too far from the Fuji Mountain. The Hakone Open-Air Museum was established in 1969 and, really, few museum can argue to have a better backdrop for their art than here. There’s some 70,000 square meters filled with sculptures, covering pretty much everyone who matters in the modern and contemporary art world.

Hakone Open Air Museum

Hakone Open Air Museum – Picture from the official website of the museum

Just in case the natural beauty of the place gets too much of you: there are five indoor pavilions as well hosting both temporary exhibitions and the rich permanent collection, for instance the Picasso pavilion with its 300 pieces of art. We imagine that spring is the best time of the year to go (we can picture some cherry-blossom blooming), but from what we hear visiting is ideal any time, where nature itself is a constantly changing guest artist. Among the sculptures you will find here are works by Henry MooreRodin, Bourdelle, Miró and many-many more, especially for the Western-world little known but exciting Japanese artists. For more information visit the Hakone Open-Air Museum website.


Changchun World Sculpture Park

Changchun, China (Two-hours flight north-east from Beijing)

While we doubt that many of us will have the chance to “drop in” to the park just like that, it is one for the armchair traveller, if nothing else. But just in case you will find yourself some 300 kilometres north of the North Korean border, in the smallish city of 7 million, Changchun, by all means pop into the world’s largest sculpture park. Here are some statistics: the park is 92 hectares large, it contains 451 sculpture works created by 401 sculptors from 216 different countries and regions. Yes, the whole world is here basically, be it Eskimo art, Mayan, Maori, Indian or you name it, some more “boring” Westerners like Rodin. If we can trust several sources we came across this is “the coolest sculpture park in the world you’ve never heard of“.

For some more info, you can visit the Changchun sculpture park’s official website, which is really doing its best to convince you not to go, it’s that boring.


Gibbs Farm

Kaipara District, Auckland, New Zealand

If you find yourself on the opposite side of the world from where we, the Art Weekenders, are now, and you are in New Zealand, there’s a park that triggers the imagination. The park only exists for the last two decades, being established in 1991, but it is one of the best thought-out sculpture park initiatives that ever existed. The man behind it is Alan Gibbs, one of the wealthiest Kiwis, who bought this farm just outside the Kaipara Harbour, one of the world’s biggest commercial ports, just north of Auckland. Here his idea was to commission world-famous artists who would set up new works in the park in full congruence with the surrounding nature. The outcome seems to be mesmerising as this article from the Twisted Sifter blog witnesses of.

Amish Kapoor Gibbs farm

Anish Kapoor, Dismemberment, Site 1 (2009) – Gibbs Farm (source

It seems to be an amazing site, we’re already searching for flights to go at once… However, if you think that you can just show up and enjoy, you’re wrong. The park is open to the public only by appointment and currently your first best chance to see it is a half year from now in September 2015, when the first open monthly visitor’s slot is available. The good part is that it’s free. If you’re interested, this is where you arrange your visit.


Instituto Inhotim

Brumadinho, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Inhotim is the art park in South America that everyone needs to put on their list. We travelled extensively in Brazil a few years ago, and somehow we managed to be among the ones who didn’t have the list with us. We prioritised our itinerary differently so we missed visiting Inhotim. As they say, we were saving something for the next time. However, we are going to use our friend Jenna from ‘This Is My Happiness‘ as our trusted source for the recommendation: you can read her review of Inhotim on her site, presented with loads of visual evidence that this is a cutting edge Brazilian experience. To summarise it all briefly: Inhotim is the only Brazilian art institution with a world-class collection of contemporary art continuously on display.

Instituto Inhotim, Brazil - The Pavilion

Instituto Inhotim, Brazil – The Pavilion. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Many of the works found here are site-specific works by renowned artists such as Doug Aitken, Matthew Barney and Jorge Macchi. Inhotim is more than just a contemporary art site, it is complemented by a botanical garden and it’s huge, thus you will need a full day to visit everything there is to see here. No worries, you won’t be bored and there are cafés and eateries around and soon enough even a hotel. Belo Horizonte is some 45 minutes away while the neighbouring town of Brumadinho is around the corner, although without much charm or charming accommodation options.


Oficina Brennand (Instituto Francois Brennand)

While we’re in Brazil, we can mention another park of great interest – one that we did manage to visit. Just outside Recife – not super-easy to get to without a car, or Portuguese-knowledge, but doable – is the estate of the local sculptor’s Francois Brennand. It is a fascinating place where the life-oeuvre of the Brazilian artist can be admired, where strange faces and phallic symbols take up a huge part of the large output the sculptor still produces. If you’re lucky, you might even run into the artist, who lives on the estate and still produces his dream-like characters.

Oficina Brennand Brazil

Oficina Brennand, Brazil

It’s a beautiful estate and – since this is northern Brazil, where modern art still doesn’t have a huge place in people’s lives – super-chilled without any crowds. You can see some more of Francois Brennand’s work on our site. For a bit more practical details please visit the site of the institution (as so often in Brazil, the site is pretty poor and only in Portuguese, but since the options are limited, you should be able to get the information you need if you are in the Recife/Olinda area).


Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Bretton, West Yorkshire, England

Since its modest beginnings in 1977 a lot has happened around the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. From the original 31 sculptures the site expanded dramatically, and today it is considered one of the leading institutions in the world for challenging and inspiring visitors through its sculptures. The list of artists exhibiting here is impressive: Joan Miró, Henry MooreAnthony Caro, Anish Kapoor, David Nash and William Turnbull, and the list of positive reviews almost even more so. Visited yearly by some 300,000 people, this is a place which is absorbing visitors and challenges perceptions of art, nature and the frontiers in between. Located in West Bretton, Wakefield,  it is easily reached by car, and also doable by public transportation (Wakefield train station is some seven miles away). You can even stay on the Bretton Estate‘s grounds. You can find out more on the (not so easily navigable) YSP website.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park - Anthony Caro

Yorkshire Sculpture Park – Anthony Caro: Promenade (Wikimedia Commons)


Skulpturen Park Köln

Cologne, Germany

In the heart of Europe the foremost place “for the exploration of contemporary sculpture” is just outside the city centre of Cologne, along the Rhein a bit further north just half an hours walk away from the world-famous Cologne Cathedral. Cologne is one of the best art cities in Germany, a place where contemporary art is striving, so no wonder that a local collector-couple, Michael and Eleonore Stoffel, initiated the idea right here. The Sculpture Park was established in 1997 and what sets it apart from other sculpture parks is that instead of focusing on a permanent collection, the main idea is to create a series of two-year exhibitions, presenting works of some of the biggest names in contemporary sculpturing.

The park covers some 2,300 square meters and is open daily, with free admission. The seventh edition of the two-year-long exhibition is coming to its end now in May of 2015. Soon thereafter a new edition, KölnSkulptur #8, will take its place. The park is open daily from 10:30 am until the fall of the night and it is complemented by a mobile phone based exhibition guide. For more information about the park, please visit their official (rather poor) website. It might not be one of the best parks in the world, but likely a good way of spending an afternoon if you have your way through Cologne.


Verbeke Foundation

Kemzeke/Stekene, West Flanders, Belgium

We can just as well say it at once. This is likely not for everyone’s taste, but if you like it a bit gritty, unpretentious, rough, you will likely appreciate this space. As the Foundation themselves describes it: Our exhibition space does not aim to be an oasis. Our presentation is unfinished, in motion, unpolished, contradictory, untidy, complex, inharmonious, living and unmonumental, like the world outside of the museum walls“. The space has been open since the summer of 2007 and it prides itself for offering a forum for new, less renowned artists. The museum has indoor pavilions as well, and if you so please you can spend the night inside some of the art works, one of them is – to say the least – very-very special. That special that I almost don’t even dare writing about it here, but it has something to do with human intestines… – nice, eh?

If you are heading from Antwerp towards Ghent or Brugges you might like to stop here, in that case you can find more information on the Verbeke Foundation website.


Storm King Art Center

Mountainville, New York, United States

Located along the Hudson River, about an hour’s drive from Manhattan, this is likely the biggest open-air sculpture park in the United States, and also one of the oldest in the world. Established in the 1960s, after a humble start with a few minor works, the park rapidly expanded in the 1970s to almost inadvertently become the most important sculpture park of the country. For instance in 1975 five monumental works by Mark di Suvero were saved and ended up here to now form the base of the collection. Also when the MoMa underwent a renovation of its own sculpture park, they asked Storm King to exhibit some of the works for a year.

Storm King Art Centre Mark di Suvero

Storm King Art Centre Mark di Suvero – Source:

Today all the major names are represented here: Alexander CalderHenry MooreIsamu NoguchiRichard SerraMagdalena AbakanowiczAndy Goldsworthy and Roy Lichtenstein. The Alan Gibbs farm presented above is said to have drawn its inspiration from this place, with focus on the interaction between art and nature. The park is open from April to October and you can find all the information you need on the Storm King website.


Wanås Konst

Wanås Castle, Östra Göinge, Skåne, Sweden

In the middle of the forest in southern Sweden you will find a hidden secret, an art gem that easily will find a spot among the world’s best open-air museums. Funny thing is that you would think that almost nobody knows about it, but the track record says something completely different. Over 250 artists have exhibited at Wanås Art since 1987, and some of the names are not just big, they’re gigantic: Yoko Ono has work here and so does Marina AbramovichWanås Konst prides itself for being “highly accessible, informal, and undidactic“, with the mission of producing, presenting and procuring art that challenges and redefines society.

Wanås Konst - Maya Lin 11 Minute Line

Wanås Konst – Maya Lin 11 Minute Line – Copyright: Wanås Konst

The vision is to have a place accessible for the many – be it kids, grown-ups, art experts or random visitors – with the goal to enjoy art in a relaxed manner. It’s certainly a place that is intriguing, and I’m not saying it only because this is from the region of Sweden where I happened to grow up. By the way, a region that is worth a visit in general, the neighbouring Österlen for instance is a huge summer destination with idyllic fishermen’s villages and artist colonies.


Pedvale Open-Air Art Museum

Pedvale, near Sabile, Latvia

Another open-air museum that stays close to nature and works hard to maintain that symbiosis is Pedvale. The Open-Air Art Museum at Pedvale was opened by sculptor Ojars Arvids Feldbergs soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and is now a State Historical Monument. The permanent collection of the Museum includes more than 150 works of art, all created during symposia, workshops and plenaries organised by Pedvale themselves. Each year Pedvale Museum chooses a theme for the artists to base their creative work on, and themes in the past have covered topics like the four elements, the “unknown element”, “timespace”, or “Stone. Motion”. If you’re in Riga and feel like getting to know the countryside, this is a good opportunity to venture further afield. Without car it’s a bit harder to get to, but entirely plausible. You can read more about Pedvale on their website.

John Ruppert (USA) „Orbs”, „Tree” Pedvale

Pedvale Open Air Museum – John Ruppert (USA) “Orbs”, “Tree” – Copyright Pedvale

Château La Coste

Le Puy Sainte Réparade, Aix-en-Provence, France

What would an art round-up be without an entry from France? Our pick is a place which combines another pleasure we have, namely wine. Château La Coste in Provence is one of the best-known biodynamic wineries in the region and in 2004 they came up with a quite unusual diversification idea: artists and architects from all over the world were invited to join and pick a place they favoured in the vineyard, a place in the domaine that spoke directly to them. Once their place was picked, they were given the freedom to create something of their liking.

The works on display keep expending each year, the latest addition is rumoured to be a new pavilion to be opened by Lee Ufan. Other artists already having their works here include Louise Bourgeois, Paul Matisse, Tadeo Ando and Frank Gehry. The Château La Coste offers two-hours guided tours for 15 Euros and is located just 20 minutes north of Aix-en-Provence. You can read more about them on their website.

Château La Coste - Drop by Tom Shannon

Château La Coste – Drop by Tom Shannon. Copyright: Château La Coste

We hope we managed to inspire you to find some ideas to combine nature and art experiences in one go. We believe there are many others we should know about – if you know of any art park worth including, just let us know (comment below or email us if you so prefer), we’re happy to include more sites of interest.

artsmart-profile-150x150This month’s other contributions in the ArtSmart Roundtable can be found here, please take a look at them too, a good way to get inspired for the spring ahead of us.

  • ArtTravArt Parks in Tuscany – A deep-dive into the open-air art parks in Tuscany, curated by Alexandra with her vast knowledge of the art scene in Florence and surroundings.
  • This Is My HappinessBotticelli’s Primavera…And so what? Can it be more spring-related then Botticelli’s “Spring”?  With loads of interesting facts about the painting – which, by the way, for ever will remain my favourite from Florence’s Uffizi.
  • WanderArtiSpring Art Fairs in Europe Spring is riddled with amazing exhibitions that cover all parts of Europe, so there’s bound to be one near you. Have a look, maybe one’s just around the corner from you.
  • Daydream TouristReal Gardens That Inspired Art Which are the famous gardens that inspired Monet and many others? Christina introduces us to three inspirational gardens around the world.


The End of De Slang, Amsterdam’s Creative Snake House

Lydian BrunstingAmsterdam, Street Art1 Comment

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The End of De Slang

Amsterdam’s Creative Snake House

I believe it was on the first day of the New Year some years ago that I stumbled upon this explosion of colours in the midst of the Amsterdam city centre for the first time. While I probably cycled along the building several times before, mostly at night, what captivated me this time was the abundance of street art on this block of houses, here in the middle of the city, appearing in front of me in the bright daylight.  Those familiar with Amsterdam probably know that what I am talking about here is the so-called De Slang building, or in English The Snake House, on Spuistraat number 199, a building that will soon belong to Amsterdam’s history.

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The entrance of the Snake House, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

It was in the early eighties that the building at the Spuistraat was squatted, following a decade of non-usage by its owner after the Dutch Press (ANP) moved out in the seventies. Back in those days squatting was considered legal in The Netherlands and as soon as a building was empty for over a year, you could basically move in. Thus, there was initially little the actual owner could do against the squatting. The squatters converted what was formerly an office building into a place where people could actually cook, shower and live and made it their homes. Soon enough the squat attracted many more creative and free spirits, like artists, musicians and actors, and in 1987 the icon of the building, the Snake, was painted at the facade, as a protector against bad spirits.


Street view Spuistraat, Amsterdam

For almost three decades discussions went on between the inhabitants, the subsequent owners and the city council to somehow ensure the community could legally stay here, over and over without the result aimed for. When the housing association De Key acquired the building in 2008 the end of the Snake House was near, as it appeared now some years later.

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De Slang and its surroundings, Amsterdam


Street art in the Spuistraat, Amsterdam

By that year the Snake House had become known for being a creative melting pot, not only for its inhabitants, but also for those just passing by. Exhibitions were hosted, movie nights and other events were organised, basically everyone was welcome to join the alternative scene.

After some initial positive talks with De Key about the future of De Slang and its inhabitants, the housing cooperative seems to have changed its mind. It decided that the creative centre and its residents had to make place for some 69 new luxury apartments and office spaces and the long-term residents of The Snake were urged to leave. This decision, most likely stimulated by the fact that squatting has become illegal in The Netherlands since 2010 and the economic downfall, marked the start of further legal battles, petitioning and demonstrations by its residents, who naturally didn’t just give up their home after all these years. Even the Amsterdam City Council got involved and supported the cause, by even offering money to De Key.


Protests from the Snake House in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Street art in the Spuistraat, Amsterdam

Yet, all battles, also the legal ones, come to an end. This end was marked this month, March 2015, when the residents were summoned to leave the building by a bailiff, instructed by De Key. Where part of the squatters left the building by themselves, seeing no further possibilities to prolong their stay or to legalize their position, others were evacuated with force and arrested by the police this week after fires broke out and more disturbance was caused for the area this week. A sad month for Amsterdam’s creative and alternative scene…

Where the squatters will go while the further gentrification of Amsterdam’s city centre is taking place, is still unknown. What sure is, is that if you would like to see this building in its old state with its brightly painted facade, you’ll have to be very fast. The chaos caused this week already left its marks on the building and the area around it. Soon what remains of De Slang is sadly only what you can see in archives, in pictures and stories like here. Only mementos from a different past.

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Street art in the Spuistraat, Amsterdam

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If you’d like to learn more about the history of De Slang and some background about the recent conflict resulting in the end of it all, you can read more on – De Slang: A Farewell To Revolution. To see the latest reactions from the people of de Slang, please visit their homepage, If you have any stories to share or would like to say your opinion about this development, please leave a comment. And do share, we and The Snake appreciate it.

The Year’s Best Exhibitions in Paris

Pal UjvarosiExhibitions, France, Paris3 Comments

Paris Museum exhibitions 2015

The Best Exhibitions in Paris in 2015


Paris is a difficult city to visit. Yes, you’ve read it correctly, we did say difficult

Sure, not in the typical difficult-difficult kind of way, otherwise it would be hard to reach the status as the most visited city in the world. In fact, we’ve been there just two weekends ago and we loved every minute of our stay there. Paris is ‘difficult’ for a way more pleasant reason: it offers a lot of options and the multitude of choices could almost-almost paralyse you. What to visit? Where to go? How can you squeeze everything into your stay? Can you even?

The answer to that last question is simple: non, pas de tout. We imagine that even if you live a Parisien life, there’s just too much to choose from to be able to indulge yourself in it all. But that should, of course, never stop us from going and see as much as we can, there is always plenty to keep our senses stimulated for quite a while. This is Paris after all.

2015 is no exception. There is a lot happening around the city and with the impressions freshly in our minds, we thought to share what events are taking place in the French capital this year. For our recent visit we did the homework and we narrowed down the options from an art perspective to some of the best exhibitions you can visit in 2015, starting from the beginning of the year, and later as well.

FURTHER READING: The Best Exhibitions in Europe in 2015

Centre Pompidou in 2015

Ever since it opened in the 1970’s the Centre Pompidou has been in the forefront of modern art. Centre Pompidou’s Musée National d’Art Moderne (not to be confused with the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the MAM) has the second largest modern and contemporary art collection in the world after New York’s MoMa, and is also the stage for some of the best temporary exhibitions put together. This year is no exception.

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The outside of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France

Jeff Koons Retrospective

Until 27 April 2015

One of the biggest names in contemporary art, the American “macho-artist” Jeff Koons, had his major breakthrough into the international art scene thanks to an exhibition he was part of 28 years ago at the Centre Pompidou. This retrospective takes aim at what happened in Jeff Koons life since, or rather his large creation of work and the importance it has. It’s shiny, it’s glittery, it’s fluorescent, and some love it – and maybe-maybe even more hate it. But it leaves few indifferent. What we can say for sure is that we had a great time and we definitely left with many questions in our heads: is Koons an artist or a masterful marketer? You’ll have to judge for yourself to come closer to the answer.

Best Exhibitions in Paris: Jeff-Koons-Centre-Pompidou-Paris-France

Jeff Koons in the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France

 Le Corbusier: The Measure of Man

From 29 April until 3 August 2015

This promising exhibition aims at presenting the work of Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, aka Le Corbusier. While the Swiss giant is known primarily for his modernist architecture and urban planning, he was also an active painter and sculptor and not only interested in constructions, but also in the human body. This exhibition will focus on this latter topic and Le Corbusier’s thoughts around the human proportions and its role as a universal principle defining all aspects of architecture and spatial composition. It sounds like it will present some sides of the artist that not many would automatically think of.

Centre Pompidou – Practical Details

Of course, the Centre Pompidou is much more than just its exhibitions, the space and the permanent collection will keep you highly entertained. Besides the main exhibitions, there are also others going on in parallel to the ones mentioned here above. Among the many good things with the Centre is for instance their opening hours: it’s open daily until 9 pm and certain nights during special weekends even later. Admission fee is currently €13 and you can purchase your ticket in advance or at the site in the automatic ticket booths to avoid the usual lines.

The Pinacothèque de Paris in 2015

The Pinacothèque de Paris is a young institution in the city of cultures, established as recently as 2007, but with yearly two million visitors it has quickly gained a dominating reputation, largely thanks to its brave attempt to rethink art history through the exhibitions organised.

In the Time of Klimt, The Vienna Secession

From 12 February until 21 June 2015

Gustav Klimt was at the centre of the Art Nouveau movement in Vienna at the previous turn of century, where as you surely know the movement went under the name of Secession, aptly describing the break from the conventions of the time. At the heart of this exhibition – displaying over 180 works taken from the collections of the Belvedere Museum in Vienna – is the life and oeuvre of the artist himself, from his early years as a student to his great masterpieces like Judith I and the Beethoven Frieze. The exhibition is, however, not only about Klimt, there is considerable space dedicated to the first years of the Secession movement, where masterpieces like the first works by Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka are also displayed, and Viennese art forms in general.

Best Exhibitions in Paris: The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, exhibition Paris

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt.

Pressionism, the Masterpieces of Graffiti on Canvas from Basquiat to Bando

From 12 March until 13 September 2015

With this exhibition the Pinacothèque certainly lives up to its reputation as the place where art history is constantly being reconsidered. This exhibition brings together some 100 paintings on canvas by the greatest artists of the so called Street Art world. The aim of the exhibition is to highlight the hidden history of the often misunderstood movement, where street art is lumped together with all kind of graffiti and often simplified to the banalities of tagging. Very few people know that the artists made famous for their works in public places also left and leave behind great productions in the traditional setting of the studio and displayed in galleries. This exhibitions brings to the attention of the public great works by the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Bando and Keith Haring from the period of the 1970s to the late 1990s.

The Pinacothèque – Practical Details

The Pinacothèque comprises of two parts, where the main one is accessed from the Place de la Madeleine side, while the other section is entered from the Rue de Vignon side of the same complex, reached by the Métro lines 8, 12 and 14, stop Madeleine. The museum is open daily from 10:30 am until 6:30 pm and on Wednesdays and Fridays the hours are extended until 8:30 pm. You have to buy separate tickets for each exhibition, €14 for Klimt and €13 for Pression. If you’d like to avoid the lines you can buy your ticket for an additional €1.50 from the site of the Pinacothèque.

Philharmonie de Paris in 2015

A part of the Paris Philarmonic is reserved for the Museum of Music, which ever since it opened in 1997 has become world renowned for its collection and presentation of musical instruments. But not only – regularly they put on exhibitions on the theme of music, which cover different artistic disciplines and areas from the music world. Like this year, a world-renowned exhibition that has been attracting the attention of the world on different continents: David Bowie.

David Bowie Is

From 3 March until 31 May 2015

The David Bowie Is exhibition is a stunning visual look into Bowie’s life, career and cultural impact, made possible by his smart decision to keep an archivist in employment. The insight into who Bowie really is exceeds most people’s expectations and there are plentiful aspects of his life that will be much better understood thanks to the exhibition, be it his interest for technology, his almost obsessive collector-mania, his inherent self-criticism or the obvious but spectacular fact of him being a style-icon without any comparison. This exhibition is in equal part about Bowie the person as Bowie the creator: his art – paintings and illustrations – takes up a huge part of the exhibition and show the incredible talent and imaginative mind he possessed since early childhood.

Best Exhibitions in Paris: David-Bowie-Is

David Bowie Is

The Philarmonie de Paris – Practical Details

The regular price to the ‘David Bowie Is‘ exhibition is €12 and the ticket gives access to the permanent collection of the music instruments. The Philarmonie is located in the north-eastern part of the city, on Avenue Jean-Jaurès, reachable by the 5 Métro, five stops from Gare du Nord. The exhibition is closed on Mondays and is open until 8 pm on Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, until 6 pm on Tuesdays and until 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. During the weekends it opens at 10 am, the other days at noon.


Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Not to be confused with the above presented Centre Pompidou, this museum devoted to contemporary art in all its form is just a short distance from the Eiffel Tower and has been open since 1961. Its permanent collection consists of some 8,000 works with numerous pieces by Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti, Georges Braque and Yves Klein. While more often than not the choice is for narrower exhibitions, occasionally they put on shows attracting larger public too.

Andy Warhol, exhibition: Shadows

From 2 October 2015 until 7 February 2016
Best Exhibitions in Paris: Courtesy ParisInfo-Andy-Warhol-MuseeArteModerne-Paris

Musee d’Arte Moderne in Paris, France – Courtesy ParisInfo

This exhibition consists of two abstract photographs only: but the two photographs create an enormous installation work of 700 square metres (!) and are 130 metres long in total. This is a little-known work of Andy Warhol’s, yet, his biggest-scaled ever and this will be the first time ever presented outside of the United States. It is by many considered a work that summarises the pop artist’s main characteristics in his work, such as repetition and the occupation of space.

Musée d’Art Modern de la Ville de Paris – Practical Details

The Musée d’Art Modern de la Ville de Paris is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm, with late opening hours on Thursdays when the exhibition part of the museum keeps the doors open until 10pm. The nearest Métro stations are Alma-Marceau or Iéna, both on the 9 line, with address on 11 Avenue du Président Wilson. The permanent collection is possible to visit for free, while temporary exhibitions are normally priced in the range of €5-11.

Grand Palais in 2015

Grand Palais was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 to replace the Palais de l’Industrie that was in its place earlier. If we’d like to be in a pompous mood, we could quote one of the original motivations for its existence as a “monument dedicated by the Republic to the glory of French art”, reflecting the idea of hosting the great artistic events of the city of Paris. More than a century later, this is still a fact today, although it might not have the same central role in the Parisian art scene as expected from it back then. One of the main characteristics of the Grand Palais is its ‘boundarylessness’, putting on shows of a great variety, from the Antiques to today’s fashion world.


From 8 April until 22 June 2015

This exhibition is a joint production between the Grand Palais and the Louvre and the idea of it is to highlight the main achievements of the leader of the Spanish school, Diego Velázquez. The official artist of the Spanish King, Philip IV, at the height of Spain’s dominance of the world, Velázquez remains one of the most timeless names in art history, rivalled only by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Titian, Caravaggio and Rembrandt.

Diego Velázquez Paris exhibition 2015

Diego Velázquez
Portrait of the kid Baltasar Carlos on his pony
1634-1635. © Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

American Icons – Masterworks from the SFMOMA and the Fisher Collection

From 25 March until 13 July 2015

This exhibition will present sixty emblematic art works from the San Francisco MOMA and the Fisher Collection, which is nowadays curated by the museum. The exhibition will host many of the greatest 20th century American artists, such as Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Diebenkorn, Chuck Close and a good handful more. From Paris the exhibition will by the way move on south to Aix-en-Provence, where it will be visiting the Musée Granet (11 July to 18 October), in case you head that way instead.

American Icons Paris exhibition

Live Ammo (Tzing!) by Roy Lichtenstein. The Doris and Donald Fisher collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
© Estate of Roy Lichtenstein New York / ADAGP, Paris, 2015 © SFMOMA

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gautier

From 1 April until 3 August 2015

A retrospective over the hugely successful career of the French fashion designer is returning to Paris after visiting nine previous destinations worldwide (Montreal, Dallas, San Francisco, Madrid, Rotterdam, Stockholm, Brooklyn, London and Melbourne). The exhibition features from the first dress created by the designer in 1971 to his most recent haute couture and ready-to-wear collections, and it also includes costumes worn by Kylie Minogue and Beyoncé and haute couture dresses worn by Nicole Kidman.

Jean-Paul Goude ean Paul Gaultier exhibition Paris

Jean Paul Gaultier, Made in Mode 2012. © Jean-Paul Goude

Grand Palais – Practical Details

The Grand Palais is located just off the Champs Elysée on 3, Avenue du Général Eisenhower. The regular opening hours are daily from 10 am to 8 pm, and usually open late on Wednesdays and Saturdays until 10 pm (the American Icons exhibition is not open late on Wednesdays). The regular entrance fee is €13 (€12 for American Icons) and to avoid the lines you can purchase your tickets online (additional €1 per ticket in fee). Online purchase has some disadvantages: you have to commit to a certain time and be comfortable with your French when purchasing, since the site isn’t available in English.

The Versailles in 2015

The Versailles unlikely needs a formal introduction, but what many might not realise is that the palace is not only about the past, but also has an important role in contemporary art. Each summer a contemporary artist is invited to the Versailles and after Lee Ufan in 2014 and Giuseppe Penone in the year before that, in 2015 it’s time for the great sculptor Anish Kapoor.

Anish Kapoor at the Gardens of the Palace of Versailles

From June until October 2015

The Indian Mumbai-born Anish Kapoor has lived and worked in London since the 1970s. He is known especially for his geometric or biomorphic sculptures and has soon been collecting all the possible prizes you just can win as a living artist. This exhibition at the Versailles gardens will bring “a political perspective on power and its depiction” with it, in the year marking the 300-years anniversary of Louis XIV’s death.

Best Exhibitions in Paris: chateau-de-versailles-veilhan

Contemporary art by Veilhan in the Versailles, Paris, France, courtesy Chateau de Versailles


Versailles – Practical Details

In high season the Versailles Gardens are open daily from 7 am until 7 pm for cars, and 8:30 pm for pedestrians. The Versailles Palace itself has more restricted hours from 9 am to 6.30 pm and is closed on Mondays, even during the high season. The admission, called “Passport” is €18 for a day or €25 for the 2-days pass and you can buy it online at the, just note that you are forced to pick a day in advance and there are some additional fees. On the other hand, you can reduce your time queuing for tickets significantly. It is good to know though that admission to the Gardens is free for pedestrians (€3 for cars, plus parking). At this stage, it is however not known if the Anish Kapoor exhibition will be in the free part of the garden or not. The best way to get to Versailles from Paris is with the RER C train from the Saint-Michel and Champ de Mars station. Always plan a full day for Versailles, less is just not enough to see it all.

Le Louvre in 2015

While we can agree that the Louvre is “Le Louvre” and if you want to go it’s rarely going to be for the temporary exhibitions. However, occasionally it can be an added extra to see something you don’t expect, especially if you are a returning visitor. This time around there are two exhibitions to keep an extra eye on: American Encounters – The Simple Pleasures of Still Life and Mark Lewis – Invention at the Louvre. I think it’s fair to say that you’re better off focusing on Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, but at least now we told you.

Best Exhibitions in Paris: France-Paris-Louvre

The Louvre by night, Paris, France.


Louvre – Practical Details

The Louvre is open daily, with the exception of Tuesday, from 9 am until 6 pm. There are late opening hours on Wednesdays and Fridays (hurray) until 9:45 pm. To avoid the long lines outside the Louvre we highly recommend you to buy your ticket in advance online. The time you spend in the queue you can use better. Unfortunately, the Louvre is not that advanced yet to provide you with electronic tickets so you will still have to go and pick it up from the stores listed on the website.

In low season, October to March, there’s an additional good news if you time your visit around the first Sunday of the month: you can enjoy the permanent collection entirely free, with the exception of the time investment in lining up.

The Henri Cartier Bresson Foundation in 2015

The Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation in Paris has been open since May 2003, established by the biggest photographer the world has ever seen together with his wife Martine Franck (also of world photography-fame) and their daughter Mélanie, just a year before his death in 2004. The reason for the Foundation is to preserve the legacy of the photographers while providing a platform for discussing photography and photo journalism, among others through the biannually awarded HCB Award.

Pieter Hugo: Kin

From 14 January until 26 April 2015

The latest project of the South African giant of contemporary photography, Pieter Hugo, goes under the name ‘Kin’ and its focus is on the artist’s own home country, South Africa. The project was carried out over eight years and in many ways it is similar to previous projects that Hugo had in other parts of Africa, like Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia. The big difference is that this time the theme is in fact close to home and the photographers conflicted relationship to his own country is at the centre of the attention. Pieter Hugo depicts subjects and locations of personal significance through landscapes, portraits and still life photography, all the while the complex issues of colonization, racial diversity and economic disparity never leave the focus of the attention. A must-see.

Best Exhibitions in Paris: Pieter-Hugo-Paris-exhibition

By Pieter Hugo.

Patrick Faigenbaum – HCB Award Winner 2013

From 13 May until 26 July 2015

Patrick Faignebaum is the winner of the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson Award for 2013 and this exhibition is showcasing the project he won for, entitled ‘Kolkata‘. The project highlights a less dynamic part of India through the portrayal of a local artist Shreyasi Chatterjee and her family, in the context of this historically important part of the British Indian Empire.

Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson – Practical Details

The Henri Cartier-Bresson is located in the Montparnasse area on 2, Impasse Lebouis, at the line 13 Gaité metro stop. The regular admission fee is €7 and it is open Tuesday to Sunday from 1 pm to 6:30 pm and Saturday from 11 am to 6:45 pm. Wednesday nights the museum is open until 8:30 pm.

Paris Magnum at the Hotel de Ville

Until 28 March 2015

While on the theme of Henri Cartier-Bresson: as one of the founders of the world’s most prestigious photography cooperative agency, Magnum (established together with Robert Capa, David “Chim” Seymour and George Rodger), he was in the forefront of changing journalism forever. Paris for the Magnum Agency, being based in the French capital, has always held a central role in the photographers lives. There is currently an exhibition at the Hotel de Ville – Paris Magnum, The capital through the eyes of the greatest photographers – definitely worth visiting, a testimony of 150 images looking back at 80 years in the development of Paris, from the 1930 until today, seen with the eyes of some of the most prestigious Magnum Photographers.

Best Exhibitions in Paris: France-Paris-Hotel-de-Ville

Hotel de Ville in Paris, France.

The exhibition is free and open Monday to Saturday from 10 am till 6.30 pm. If you walk by, this is an occasion not to be missed.

Other Important Art Dates in Paris

These were what we think are the best exhibitions in Paris in 2015. While the French capital has constantly something going on, it’s not only the exhibitions you should keep an eye on, but also some good-to-know dates, for knowing when something a little bit out of the ordinary happens. There’s for instance the Parisian Museum Night in mid-May when you can round off your nightly museum visit with a glass of red wine on a terrace. The big Parisian art fair, FIAC, is every year held in October; if you have some extra money to spend, this could be the occasion. And there’s more.


[icon_list_item type=”calendar”]Museum Night: 16 May 2015[/icon_list_item]

[icon_list_item type=”calendar”]European Heritage Days: 19 and 20 September 2015[/icon_list_item]

[icon_list_item type=”calendar”]Nuit Blanche Arts Festival: 3 October 2015[/icon_list_item]

[icon_list_item type=”calendar”]FIAC International Contemporary Art Fair: 22 to 25 October 2015[/icon_list_item]

[icon_list_item type=”calendar”]Photo Paris at Grand Palais: 12 to 15 November 2015[/icon_list_item]



A Tip: Paris Museum Pass

If you are sure that your Paris visit will be an intense museum-hopping occasion it is worth considering getting a museum pass. A pass is valid for individual visitors and offers free admission – without waiting in line – to the permanent collections of more than 60 museums and monuments in and around Paris, including the Louvre. The prices are as follows:


[icon_list_item type=”money”]2-day pass: €42[/icon_list_item]

[icon_list_item type=”money”]4-day pass: €56[/icon_list_item]

[icon_list_item type=”money”]6-day pass: €69[/icon_list_item]


In this post we evaluated whether or not the Paris Museum Pass is actually worth your money. This is one tip we can give you, but if you would like to for instance beat the crowds and save money, check out our article with useful tips for Paris.

Art City Break Cologne: Meeting Point for Pop Art and Saints

Lydian BrunstingArtSmart Roundtable, Cologne, Europe, Germany5 Comments


Art City Break Cologne

Meeting Point for Pop Art and Saints

It’s a new month again, spring is in the air and the best season for art city breaks is about to start. For this month’s round of ArtSmart articles, the choice for us members of the ArtSmart Roundtable fell on writing about ‘art cities’ around the world. We use the occasion to introduce the German city of Cologne, one of the best art city destinations in the country, closely behind the capital Berlin.We also like to introduce you to the newest member of our Roundtable: Lizzie of Wanderarti. Lizzie not only writes about art cities, but also showcases works of different artists.

For new readers not familiar with The ArtSmart Roundtable: we are part of a group of art-focused travel bloggers who write about a new art-travel related topic every month. Once you’ve read this article, make sure to also check out the contributions from the other members, there will be stories from the North American West Coast, about a hidden gem from the Balkans and a travelling dog visiting cities around the globe… So yes, you should get curious – links at the bottom of this post.

What Makes An Art City Stand Out?

Before we delve into what Cologne has to offer, let’s define what the ideal art city break would actually look like for us personally. It is actually a big part of our focus on this site, so it’s a topic we often reflect over. Although a good museum on its own can make a destination worthwhile travelling to, it’s not only the museums that make a real art city stand out. The basis for a perfect art city break for us lies in a mixture of different elements. To make it simple, here are some random thoughts around this.


Museum Ludwig

Photo courtesy of Museum Ludwig, photographer Lee M.

  • Although we have a slight preference for photography and modern & contemporary art, we also think that museums with the art of the old masters or about the history of a city always add to the mix. The latter often makes you understand a city immediately much better and might put things you see around the streets and squares in perspective. On top of it, you will discover things you wouldn’t have got to know while just walking through the city.
  • While we really enjoy visiting the flagship museums, we find it as inspiring to see the work of local artists in galleries and design shops.
  • As much as we like to visit museums and galleries, we like having some good outside sight-seeing opportunities too, like a cute historic centre, some nice modern architecture, or for example a lush-green park (if it’s a sculpture park even better!) for those nice and sunny days.
  • If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know that we’re big street-art fans. Finding a good portion of street-art throughout town, like in the Belgian city Ghent, is a real added bonus for us.
  • Although we certainly don’t mind using a city’s public transport to see all the highlights (sometimes there’s no choice really), we do enjoy it a lot more when all the main attractions are at walking distance from each other, as this gives you the opportunity to absorb the local atmosphere much better, rather than jumping from one bus or subway train to the other.
  • After a long day of walking around a city and admiring all highlights, feeding your brain with new inspiration, it’s time to treat your body, fill your empty stomach and relax a bit. Although we are not big food connoisseurs, we can’t deny we enjoy a good meal at the end of the day. Myself being a non-meat eater this is at times challenging, so the more choices a city offers in this respect, the better.
  • While we still regularly book budget accommodation and have nothing against staying in a simple, clean room, we feel a stay in a bit more fancy, design place does give a weekend away something extra.

So how does Cologne qualify as an art city destination? Pretty well, we think. Here are just some of the factors contributing to it.


Art City Break Cologne Evaluated

Being Germany’s fourth largest city (after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich) with a population of over a million inhabitants, you would perhaps expect that you need to use public transport quite often to get from one highlight to the other in Cologne. This is however not the case at all. In fact, the main highlights are all quite close to each other and you can easily walk from one attraction to the other, while enjoying parts of the historic city or views over the Rhine, the famous river running through Cologne.  And it all starts the moment when you walk out of the train station.


With more than 30 museums and over 100 galleries we bet you’ll not be able to visit every single one of these venues in just one weekend, unless you just run in and out from one to the other. These numbers do, however, give an idea of the art scene in Cologne, considered as one of the best in Germany.

Art city break Cologne: Germany-Cologne-waterfront-traditional-houses

Part of Cologne’s old city overlooking the waterfront


Kölner Dom

As soon as you walk out of main entrance of the train station, you find yourself underneath Cologne’s cathedral, the Kölner Dom, the cathedral with the largest facade of any church in the world and the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Germany’s most visited attraction, with 20,000 visitors per day. Make sure to save some energy to climb up to the top for a splendid view over the city, some 509 steps up, and… back down.
Art city break Cologne: Germany-Cologne-cathedral-stained-glass

Stained glass window in Cologne’s cathedral

Museum Ludwig

Next to the cathedral you will find what we personally consider as the best museums in Cologne and one of the best in Germany: the Museum Ludwig. This museum on its own is a contributing factor to the art city break Cologne title, in our own opinion. The museum was founded in 1976 when Peter and Irene Ludwig donated 350 works of modern art to the city of Cologne. Since that year the collection of the museum has been extended immensely and nowadays it has one of the most important collections of art from the 20th and 21st centuries worldwide. It’s here you’ll find the most extensive Pop Art collection in Europe, the third biggest Picasso collection in the world (after Barcelona and Paris), one of the best collections of German expressionism and one of the internationally most important collections of photographs from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Did you by the way know that there are more Ludwig Museums throughout the world?

Ludwig Goes Pop Art exhibition in Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany


Rooftop of the Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany

Romano Germanic Museum

Also adjacent to the cathedral is the Romano Germanic Museum, a museum which goes into Cologne’s history, a city founded by the Romans under the name Colonia back in 50 AD. The museum is actually located on the foundations of an urban Roman villa with the world-renown Dionysius mosaic, which you can also see from the Cathedral Square via a panorama window. Inside the museum the history of the Romans along the river Rhine is shown by different objects like wall-paintings, mosaics, architectural elements and tools, some going back as far as one hundred thousand years. The museum also has the world’s biggest collection of Roman glass vessels.
Art city break Cologne: 2015-Germany-Cologne-cathedral

Cologne’s cathedral bathing in sunlight

Wallraf-Richartz Museum & Fondation Corboud

Only a couple of blocks away from the cathedral you’ll find the Wallraf-Richartz Museum & Fondation Corboud. This museum houses the works of European painters from the 13th to the early 20th century, ranging from classic Medieval art to Baroque masters to the works of the impressionists. It’s here you’ll find among others Stefan Lochner’s Madonna in the Rose-bower, also referred to as the ‘kölsche Mona Lisa’, next to Rembrandts and Monets.

2015-Germany-Cologne- Walraff-Ludwig-museum
The Walraff Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany

Farina Fragrance Museum

Just across the Wallraf-Richartz Museum you’ll find the Farina Fragrance Museum. If you ever wondered where the name ‘eau de cologne’ comes from and wish to smell (or buy) the real deal, dive into the history of scents and visit this museum, which is the birthplace of the original ‘eau de cologne’. It may be less of a highlight for some of us, but considering its history and its place in world history, it’s fun enough to spend some time here too.

Art city break Cologne: 2015-Germany-Cologne- Farina-Fragrance-museum

The Farina Fragrance Museum, Cologne, Germany

Historical Centre

While walking from one museum to the other you’ll find yourself in the historical centre with its cobblestoned streets and cute, traditional houses, many of which are housing restaurants or traditional breweries (Brauhaus in German) today. The term ‘historical’ is a bit misleading though, as the largest part of the city centre was destroyed during World War II. After the war only some of the traditional houses were rebuilt, although with German preciseness, explaining why you hardly notice that the buildings are not originals.

Art city break Cologne: Germany-Cologne-old-city

Part of Cologne’s old centre, with a view over the Rhine


Skulpturen Park Köln

Mentioned in the Wall Street Journal as one of Europe’s best open-air sculpture parks, the Skulpturen Park Köln is one of the places we recommend all art lovers to venture out of the city centre for. With some fifty different contemporary art works by nationally and internationally renown artists spread across four hectares of land, it makes a perfect destination on the sunnier days. Every two years the artworks are replaced by new ones. The park is situated along the Rhine river, close to the botanic gardens and the zoo and is about half an hour walk from the city centre up along the Rhine. You can also take public transport there.

Detail of the Ostermann fountain in the city centre of Cologne, Germany

Rheinauhafen District

Half-an-hour walk down from the city centre the opposite way you will find the modern Rheinauhafen district. In this redeveloped area you’ll find some interesting modern architecture like the “Kranhäuser” (crane towers), and some trendy galleries, restaurants and bars.
Art city break Cologne Rheinauhafen

Rheinauhafen district by Rolf Heinrick, creative commons, Flickr

Street Art

Although we’ve personally seen very little street art in Cologne ourselves – apart from some sculptures like the one of Tünnes and Schäl – since we were mainly in the old city centre during our stay, we have heard good stories about the street art scene in Cologne. In fact, the city has its own street art festival, called Cityleaks, which will be on for the third time in September 2015. You can likely expect us visiting back then. When you’re not able to visit the festival, but do like to discover some new street art, make sure to check-out the Ehrenfelt and Belgische Viertel, where there’s supposed to be plenty of street art.

Art city break Cologne: 2015-Germany-art-city-break-Cologne-Tunnes-Schal

The statues of Tünnes and Schäl, two figurines from the puppet theatre of Cologne, representing typical Kölsche.


Cosmopolitan Lifestyle

In terms of mentality the people of Cologne are often referred to as a separate nation within Germany. Having had many international influences as from the moment the metropolis was founded by the Romans, the open-minded, tolerant, friendly and cosmopolitan character likely came naturally with life. Aspects of this you’ll see back in among others the gastronomy of the city. Apart from typical German food, like bratwurst, you’ll find almost any type of dish you’d like to eat here, from Japanese to Brazilian to Arabian food. So although the German like their meat, also as a non-meat eater you’ll have plenty of options.
Art city break Cologne: 2015-Germany-Cologne-restaurant

One of Cologne’s restaurants.


 What else have you experienced in Cologne that you think us and other readers should know about? Feel free to share your knowledge by leaving a comment here below.
Tip: To save on costs consider buying the Museumscard or the Kolncard. The Museumscard is € 20, – for one person or € 32 for a family with two children and is valid for a number of museums in Cologne for two consecutive days plus as a public transport ticket on the first day. The Kolncard starts from € 9,- and entitles you to 24 or 48 hours of free travel on trams and buses, plus 50 % discount for different museums, restaurants and other cultural venues.

The other contributions to the ArtSmart Roundtable of this month are:

Late Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum

Pal UjvarosiAmsterdam, Exhibitions, Rembrandt, The NetherlandsLeave a Comment

The-Netherlands-Amsterdam Rijksmuseum Late Rembrandt Art Weekenders


Late Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum


Upon stepping into the first room of the Rijksmuseum‘s new stunning Philips-wing you right away find yourself curiously being gazed upon by three pairs of eyes. All three of them belong to the same person and they have been fixed in the same position for some 350 years, but never before in the same room. The man they belong to is, of course, Rembrandt van Rijn and the three paintings are a nice representation of his many self-portraits.

It is a fitting opening room for this show put together by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in collaboration with London’s National Gallery. As you will see later, this show is doing a fantastic job in really getting to know Rembrandt the artist, the person, all the while you the visitor can admire some of his most famous works in a uniquely presented way. We say it form the beginning: this is a must-see exhibition, an opportunity that you will probably only have once in your lifetime. It’s not only our words, the director of the Rijksmuseum,Wim Pijbes, said exactly that at the big press opening of the show in early February:

Late Rembrandt is the exhibition of the year and maybe the best you’ll see in your lifetime.

If you happened to be in London at the end of 2014 you are the exception, this is your second chance to see almost the same show: the Late Rembrandt exhibition now visiting the artist’s home city of Amsterdam already had its spell at the National Gallery of the British capital. During this exhibition 90 of Rembrandt’s late works are displayed, some never before publicly exhibited. Simply put, this is a rare show.

The-Netherlands-Amsterdam Rijksmuseum Late Rembrandt Art Weekenders

Self-Portrait with Two Circles – Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

The exhibition, which is described in some media as a blockbuster, is going to be the biggest show at the Rijksmuseum this year. While it might sound like big words, it’s really not an unrealistically set expectation by the museum’s directors. For us the experience felt very unique. It’s not often that at the end of your tour, you just don’t want to leave the place, you keep turning back to see more, to absorb some more of the aura this collection transpires. After all, having all these works from various collections seen together is a first and who knows when, if ever, the opportunity will come again. The feeling of exclusivity of the Late Rembrandt exhibition is definitely very high.


Portraits of a Couple – Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

For a good part of the past ten years the Rijksmuseum organisation has been busy preparing for this exhibition. The end result is the most expensive exhibition ever put together in The Netherlands, with an estimated budget of €5 million.

The common denominator for the show is that only Rembrandt’s work from the last period of his life – from about 1651 until his death in 1669 – are displayed. With patience, diplomacy and careful preparation, Amsterdam’s finest museum eventually brought together the close to hundred works. They are partially from the museum’s own collection, but the main attraction of the show is the uniqueness of the other works. A big part of the artworks are lent from the current owners, about 35 different international museums and private collections.

In many cases the decisive factor to convince the owners to lend out the works was, as per the director of the Rijksmuseum Wim Pijbes, the idea to return at least once in their lifetime the works to the artist’s place of birth, Amsterdam. A better opportunity than this exhibition has never previously materialised, this was the moment of a lifetime.


Portrait of Frederik Ribel – Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn


Rembrandt’s Works Organised by Theme

As we walked through the new Philips Wing of the Rijksmuseum with our multimedia tour in hand, the first main observation was that the works are arranged by theme rather than chronologically. This approach is not a first to the Rijkmuseum, in a similar fashion last year’s exhibition Art As Therapy by Alain de Botton played on the conceptual idea of presenting art. Organising the artworks this way serves the viewer really well and it also gives a fantastic opportunity to get to know and understand Rembrandt the person much better. The paintings, drawings and prints are given every opportunity to shine together, which without the current context might have been lost

The-Netherlands-Amsterdam-Rijksmuseum-Late-Rembrandt-Bathing-Woman-Art-WeekendersLB13   | Late Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Bathing Woman – Rembrandt Harmenszn. van Rijn

Besides life themes such as intimacy, musings and reconciliations, special attention is also paid to what made Rembrandt into the great master he was, and what makes his style so unique. By highlighting Rembrandt’s unique technique and his revolutionary ability to use light, the exhibition really shows the technical skills of the great Dutch master. Just to mention a few, his etching technique and the extensive use of the palette knife is well documented and clearly demonstrated throughout the collection.

The-Netherlands-Amsterdam-Rijksmuseum-Late-Rembrandt-Joodse-Bruidje-Art-WeekendersLB10   | Late Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

The Jewish Bride – Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

With fascinating background stories on our multimedia tour (we recommend you to spend the few extra Euros on it, well worth the money), the works of Rembrandt more than ever get enlivened and the attention is drawn to the subtle details. What, for example, is the significance of the male hand on the chest of the Jewish Bride?


Getting to Know Rembrandt

The great benefit of this exhibition is the opportunity to get to know Rembrandt the person, especially during his final years. The artist eventually suffered some serious setbacks after years of success, when he was forced into bankruptcy and lost his wife. ‘Late Rembrandt’ – without pushing facts into your face – slowly and masterfully explains the subtle emotions characteristic for the artist and how he lived his life. There are clear opportunities to get insights into his spiritual thoughts, his friendships, problems he wrestled with, his view on the everyday life in his city of birth.

Maybe most of all: the exhibition shows that Rembrandt went his own way, he almost comes across as some kind of gentle rebel. Unlike his contemporaries, Rembrandt didn’t follow the established norms. Thanks to the exhibition it is easier to understand what really makes a Rembrandt so special: be it his experimental techniques, but just as much his choice of motifs and his different approach in the depiction of the commonly used concepts, ‘Late Rembrandt’ shines light on a unique master.

The-Netherlands-Amsterdam-Rijksmuseum-Late-Rembrandt-Lezende-vrouw-Art-WeekendersLB7   | Late Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

An Old Woman Reading – Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

Rembrandt Is Coming Home

As mentioned, the exhibition is put together in collaboration with the National Gallery in London, where it had its first stop late last year. Now when Rembrandt is “coming home” the  exhibition includes a few extra highlights not displayed in London. Four of the paintings – the Family Portrait, Portrait of Jan Six, Self Portrait as Zeuxis and Jacob and the Angel – can only be seen here in Amsterdam.

The-Netherlands-Amsterdam-Rijksmuseum-Late-Rembrandt-Coppenol-Art-WeekendersLB11   | Late Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Portrait of Lieven Willemsz. van Coppenol – Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

Another important detail of the Amsterdam exhibition is the setting. No offense to London, but we do believe that Rembrandt is best served in his city of birth, for one. Also the newly reopened Philips wing of the Rijksmuseum is a fantastically beautiful space for housing an exhibition of this magnitude.

The Late Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum exhibition will run until 17 May 2015. You can be assured that there will be big crowds, and to avoid spending your time at the entrance queuing instead of admiring the exhibition we highly recommend to buy your tickets in advance. Click here for more information. The tickets are valid for a specific time slot and it can only be bought together with the general admission to the museum. The opening hours are daily from 10 am to 5 pm. The combined entrance fee costs €25 Euros and if you already have other discount cards like the Dutch ‘Museumcard’ the surcharge you’ll have to pay is only €7.50.

We highly advice you to rent the Multimedia Tour at the Rijksmuseum for the additional €5, it is well worth it. The multimedia tour is also available for free as part of the Rijksmuseum App, which you can download in the App store or Google Play for free.


More Rembrandt?

After seeing the exhibition you are further intrigued and your appetite for more Rembrandt-knowledge remains unsatiated? Then we have good news for you: parallel to this exhibition, there are various other activities organized around Rembrandt.


Walking with Rembrandt

Rembrandt spent most of his life – from 1631 to 1669 – in Amsterdam. During the Rembrandt City Walk, in approximately two hours you can wonder along the route highlighting the sixteen most important locations in Rembrandt’s life. The locations are ranging from the places where the artist lived to the spots of his greatest works of art, such as where the Night Watch was made. As you know, Amsterdam is any way best enjoyed by walking around, so here’s a fun treasure hunt for you.


A map of the trail can be downloaded here or picked up in the Rijksmuseum, at the local tourist office and at several hotels.


Rijksmuseum Canal Cruise Special: ‘The Final Rembrandt’

During a boat trip, organized by the Rijksmuseum in cooperation with the Blue Boat Company, you can see some of the main locations in Rembrandt’s life from the water. Where did the artist paint and where were his preferred spots for working? You can see all that and the accompanying audio tour takes you back to Rembrandt’s time by filling in some additional details about life back then.

For reservations and more information: The cruise including the entrance fee to Rijksmuseum and the Late Rembrandt exhibition costs €40, or €46 if you include a visit to the Rembrandt House (see below).


The Rembrandt House

The Rembrandt House – the house where Rembrandt lived much of his life, at least until his bankruptcy – is nowadays a museum. The exhibition here presents works of Rembrandt’s pupils who accompanied him during the last years of his life. These artists had all been trained as painters, but they sought out Rembrandt’s mentoring to further refine and deepen their skills.


Sleeping Young Woman – Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

In addition to the relationship between Rembrandt and his pupils, the Rembrandt House exhibition also highlights the relationship between modern masters and their pupils, a presentation  going under the name of Studio R.

The exhibition will run until 17 May. The regular entrance fee is €12.50, including the audio tour. The Rembrandt House Museum is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm.


Projection Claudius Civilis in the Royal Palace

Both the Night Watch as well as the painting of Claudius Civilis hung in the distant past in the old town hall of Amsterdam, now the Royal Palace, simply called the Dam. Over the years, both paintings went through changes and unfortunately only remained intact partially. The remaining part of Claudius Civilis is now on display for the Late Rembrandt occasion in the Rijksmuseum, but for the curious ones a unique reconstruction of the painting will be temporarily projected in the Royal Palace. This was Rembrandt’s biggest painting ever made, some 5.5 times 5.5 metres, bigger than his Night Watch, and it can be nice seeing it in its original setting, although only virtually. For more information please visit

Claudius Civilis, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn   | Late Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Claudius Civilis – Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn


Documentary The Making of Late Rembrandt

Are you curious how this exhibition was put together and prepared? Or somehow would like to take part of the Rembrandt-craze of Amsterdam, but not able to visit the Dutch capital?

The documentary The Making of Late Rembrandt gives a look behind the scenes  through interviews with the various curators of the show. Through the help of various artists the documentary also demonstrates the techniques used by Rembrandt and the developments that we see in Rembrandt’s work throughout the years.

The documentary is being screened in more than 1,000 cinemas worldwide from the 17th of February. For more information click here.

The-Netherlands-Amsterdam-Rijksmuseum-Late-Rembrandt-Art-WeekendersLB16   | Late Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Self Portrait Rembrandt

We hope you enjoy your Late Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum experiences in Amsterdam and if there was anything specific you liked or found useful for other to know about, please leave a comment here below.

Art Couples – Between Romance and Heartbreaks

Pal UjvarosiArtSmart Roundtable1 Comment

Art Couples - Romantic and sometimes stormy relationships amidst the creative process

ArtSmart Roundtable:

Art Couples – Between Romance and heartbreaks


In February the ArtSmart Roundtable is back again, and the theme for this edition is LOVE. With Valentine’s Day being the dominating event during the shortest month of the year, the choice is a natural one. The topic selection for our contribution is art couples; given that we are a couple manoeuvring the development of this blog, it’s naturally a logical choice from our personal point of view as well. Love is more than “just” about couples in the ArtSmart group: there are other stories presented in this month’s Roundtable, all stories with a different angle. They’re all linked to at the end of this article, please, don’t forget to click through to them as well, as always some good stories to learn from and get inspired by.

Art Couples

Vincent Van Gogh once gave artists the following advice: What is done in love is done well. While for Vincent love has always been a personal disappointment, there are plenty of examples where indeed creativity and love got well combined by couples who joined forces in arts and bed to accomplish great achievements.

Looking for artistic couples in art history doesn’t require a lot of searching around – as long as the concentration is from early 20th century onward. Finding any artistic bonds prior to that will be hard – in fact, finding women at all in the art world prior to the impressionists (is Berthe Morrisot the first female “star” in arts?) will be almost impossible. The few existing names are rare; even though there have been active women in the art world for instance already in the Renaissance, just that the world in general was more interested in degrading them than to treat them as equals. It’s a sad reality that first today the balance slowly starts to find some kind of equilibrium, and even in a not too distant past inequality in the art world was easy to find (some could argue it might still be). Gender in the arts in generally a hard topic, and in fact, the story that first inspired us to write this article relates to the subject as well.

In case you have seen the recently released movie, “Big Eyes” (2014), you know whom we refer to. Tim Burton‘s latest masterpiece is about the artist Margaret Keane and her husband whom she later divorced in a turbulent fashion, a divorce where she has our fullest sympathies. This real-life case took place in the 1950’s and the story is about how Margaret Keane’s husband in fraudulent ways claimed credit for her work.

Art couples - Big Eyes Movie

Margaret’s paintings became increasingly popular and valued, all the while the artist was pushed aside from the attention of the world by her husband. While a spoiler alert is in its place, we can surely share that justice would be brought to the world. The solution was famously unusual, but also very logical logical: the couple had to produce a real-life painting in front of the judge. The outcome is easy to predict, justice was made. (While we don’t want to detour from the topic here, we’d like to mention that the cartoon characters “The Power Puff Girls” are inspired by Ms. Keane’s big eyed girls, a legacy that somehow feels good for the symbolism of “girl-power”.)


True Romance in the Art World

But back to our topic of the art couples. Luckily, there are more upbeat examples from the romantic encounters in the art world – and some more stormy ones too (artists are flamboyant, after all). While we would indeed expect that most artist relationships are of the stormy kind, the major part of the examples are actually of the sweet, romantic kind.


Wassily Kandinsky & Gabriele Münter


One of the first power couples of the art world is the one between the father of abstract art, Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) and Gabriele Münter (1877-1962). Although the couple never married, they lived side by side during their entire careers ever since they started their relationship in 1902.

Supporting each other throughout life, Kandinsky went on to become the first ever painter producing purely abstract works of art, while Münter became one of the most important members of the emerging avant-garde movement in Munich, the city where the couple met and lived.


Willem & Elaine de Kooning

Art Couples - de Kooning

Image source: architecturaldigest

One of the brightest examples for a harmonious artist relationship is the one between Willem and Elaine de Kooning. The couple met as art students already in 1938, to marry five years later and to live and work alongside each other for more than fifty years, until Elaine’s death in 1989. The dynamic couple went on to become among the most influential American artists ever, where they both were pioneers and poster names for the abstract expressionist movement.


Alfred Stieglitz & Georgia O’Keeffe

Okeeffe Stieglitz

Another American art couple that went through life side by side is the one of Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe. Although a bit more of the stormy character, the relationship between the two individually successful artists was built on love, where Vincent’s above saying is truly applicable. Stieglitz was 23 years older than O’Keeffe, which of course didn’t go unnoticed when they met in 1916, especially since Stieglitz was married to another woman at the time. The couple eventually married in 1924 and influenced each other throughout life.


Dorothea Tanning & Max Ernst

Art Couples: Ernst & Tanning

Image source:


Another true love story in the art world is the marriage between Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning. The two fell in love when Max Ernst visited the studio of Tanning’s, started a game of chess and as they say, the rest is now history. The couple went on to live together until Ernst’s death in 1976, most of that time passed in France.


Salvador Dali & his Gala

While not necessarily an art couple per se, given that Dali’s longtime life partner didn’t necessarily made herself a name as an artist, the couple needs to be mentioned. Dali without Gala is almost unthinkable, especially if you get to know the couple’s life together in their beloved Catalonia, as we did when touring the Dalinian Triangle around Figueres.


Christo & Jeanne-Claude

Art couples

The Bulgarian-born Christo married the Moroccan-born Jeanne-Claude in 1962 after being a couple for four years prior to that. The couple went on to live and create together until Christo’s death in 2009, making their name especially for their outdoor, large-scale installations with environmental themes.


Inez & Vinoodh

Art couples

Image source: businessoffashion

For us Amsterdammers there’s a famous duo in the photography world to keep an eye on. The two Amsterdam-born stars of fashion photography have worked together since 1986, very successfully we should add, being among the most sought-after photographers in the world for the big magazines and the even bigger stars like Bork for instance. Seemingly, their relationship looks just as successful.


The Bonnie & Clyde of the Art World: Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely

Art couples: Niki de Saint Phalle & Tinguely

Image source:

A list of art couples like this one would be nothing without including the real “Bonnie & Clyde” of the art world: Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely. In the 1960’s France few other couples attracted so much attention as the fascinating relationship between these two artists. The parallels to Bonnie and Clyde are also explainable by their usage of guns and explosives in their often complicated pieces of installations. While their art was often explosive, their marriage was calm and harmonic, they were together all the way until Jean Tinguely’s death in 1991 and they never stopped creating while continuously pushing the established limits.


Stormy Romances in the Art World

Not all of the famous art couples had sweet, harmonious relationships, although unquestionably most of them went on to use the conflicts defining their relationships into fruitful careers.


Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera

Art couples

Image source: wikiart

Likely the most famous art couple in the world are Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. What possibly made their relationship so famous are all the scandals, betrayals and reunifications, which often created stories echoing through the art world. They married once, just to divorce later as a result of extra-marital affairs, only to remarry a year after they divorced. Despite the torridness of the relationship, the couple always seemed to have a mutual artistic respect for each other and after Kahlo’s death Rivera witnessed in his autobiography that the day when Kahlo died was the saddest day of his life.


Lee Krasner & Jackson Pollock

Image source:

Image source:

Another couple classifying for a conflict-filled relationship was Jackson Pollock’s marriage to Lee Krasner. While both were influential artists at the time of their encounter in 1942, Pollock’s career later sky-rocketed, which created artistic insecurities for Lee Krasner. To avoid the public’s automatic association of her as “just the wife of Pollock’s”, Krasner usually signed her work only as L.K., just to avoid being talked of.


Pablo Picasso & Francois Gilot

Art Couples Picasso and Gilot

Image source: designsponge

Picasso’s love life was famously turbulent, so when at the age of 63 he met the forty years younger art student Francoise Gilot, it was almost written in the stars that the relationship wouldn’t end well. The couple got children together, Claude and Paloma, but Picasso instead of marrying Gilot went on to wed Jacqueline Roque, whom he ended up living with until his death in 1973.


Jasper Johns & Robert Rauschenberg


Two of the major names in the pop art world, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, had a stormy relationship for six years. While they never openly admitted their relationship it is a well-known fact that the two were one of the first openly gay couples of the art world, a sign for a changing New York at the end of the 1950s.


Marina Abramovic & Ulay

Art couples: marina and Ulay

Image source: openculture

Finally, to conclude with a couple that quite recently made the headlines in the art world is Marina Abramovic and Ulay. The two met in Amsterdam in 1976, instantly becoming lovers and performance art partners. Their stormy relationship lasted for a decade, when they symbolically ended their partnership by walking down from opposing ends of the Great Wall of China, to finally meet up somewhere halfway along the wall after some 90 days, to bid farewell from each other. In 2013 Marina Abramovic had her performance art show at New York’s MoMa, where part of the show was to share a moment of silence face to face with anyone who so pleased. Needless to say, soon enough she found herself facing down Ulay, a dramatic “rencontre” that left both of them in tears.

This month’s other contributions in the ArtSmart Roundtable can be found here, please take a look at them too, great stories in this month of the love birds.


Do you know of any other art couples whom you think should be mentioned here? Or any stories about the ones we told here that you think would add something extra for readers to know about? Please leave a comment here below, it’s always appreciated.

2015’s Best Exhibitions in Europe for City Breaks

Pal UjvarosiArt Events, Currently On, Europe, Exhibitions, Uncategorized1 Comment

Best Exhibitions 2015

2015’s Best Exhibitions in Europe

Your Perfect Excuses for Weekend Getaways


Recently we covered the best 2015 art exhibitions on show in our home-base of The Netherlands. While we’re happy to have many worthy shows so close to home, we are always on the lookout for good excuses to escape for the weekend and find good city breaks. Thus, time to see what is happening elsewhere, which are the best exhibitions around Europe during the year. We present one opening for each month – a way to plan the year’s weekend trips in an easy way.

Europe is big, but when it comes to the arts and big names the cities with the most on offer are the expected ones: London, Paris and Berlin tend to dominate, and then there are a good handful of important cities like Amsterdam, Madrid and Vienna to keep a good eye on. Of course, there are more, and we continuously try to find the smaller candidates with big shows on offer. How does it look like for our picks for 2015? Let’s have a look!


1. London: Royal Academy – Rubens and his Legacy

24. Jan 2015 – 10. Apr 2015


Best exhibitions in europe 2015: Rubens and his legacyAmong all the exciting exhibitions that kick off in London this year (what else is new? – there’s always something worthy to find in the British capital), we’d like to highlight the first major overview of Rubens‘s (1577-1640) work and his legacy on artists coming after him. It is clear that the “prince of painters” has influenced a wide range of artists over the centuries such as van Dyck, Rembrandt and Picasso, but how exactly? This is your chance to see it yourself and admire the works of the Flemish painter’s almost uniquely, side by side with the works of whom he influenced. Quite an opportunity really.

The Royal Academy of Arts is located just off the Piccadilly on Burlington Gardens. It’s advisable to get your tickets in advance. The entrance fee is £16.50 (without donation £15).


2. Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum – Late Rembrandt

12. Feb 2015 – 17. May 2015


Best exhibitions in europe 2015: Rembrandt - Self Portrait J910070

So here we are, at “home” in Amsterdam and including an exhibition among the best ones in Europe to look forward to, while we left it out from our Dutch overview. The reasoning is really all about spreading out the treats – and this exhibition is a really big one worth including in a European overview. The Rijkmuseum will put on this once-in-a-lifetime event for the spring season, where 40 paintings, 20 drawings and 30 prints – on loan from leading international museums – will represent the Amsterdam-born artist’s later oeuvre, from 1652 until his death in 1669.

Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is on the unmissable Museumplein in the heart of Amsterdam. If you so please, you can purchase your ticket in advance here. General admission tickets including the exhibition cost 25 Euros (17.50 without the Rembrandt exhibition). If you are a Museumcard holder you still need to buy the additional ticket for 7.50 Euros. Opening hours are daily from 9 am to 5 pm.


3. Edinburgh: National Galleries – Roy Lichtenstein

14. Mar 2015 – 10. Jan 2016


Best exhibitions in europe 2015: Roy Lichtenstein In the Car (1963) © The Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS

Roy Lichtenstein In the Car (1963)
© The Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS

Edinburgh is really one of the nicest cities in Britain for a weekend getaway. There’s plenty to do and see, great museums, beautiful sites. This Roy Lichtenstein exhibition can thereby fit well into a weekend schedule with the idea of experiencing different facets of culture life. The Roy Lichtenstein three-room show at the Edinburgh Galleries’ Modern One section will display newly assembled groups of works, made available specifically for the occasion by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.

While the exhibition is small, you can expect big crowds since it’s totally free. The good thing is that the museum is open daily and with ten months at disposal it should ensure that everyone will have time to come and see it.


4. Milan: Palazzo Reale – Leonardo 1452 – 1519

15. Apr 2015 – 19. Jul 2015


Best exhibitions in europe 2015: Leonardo da Vinci Lleda

It’s fair to say that this year is HUGE for Milan: the Expo 2015 will dominate Europe’s cultural scene between May and October – an event we will come back to in depth soon. But there’s more to the Lombard capital: for instance the biggest ever Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in Italy. The pinnacle of Leonardo’s oeuvre will be presented in twelve sections, featuring paintings, drawings, manuscripts and working models of his inventions. There will be a technical highlight too: a full-scale video reproduction of ‘The Last Supper‘ – intriguing and strange as that now might sound.

We have a feeling that spring/summer in Milan will be a real hit this year.

The Leonardo exhibition is on at Milan’s Palazzo Reale (sorry, don’t expect a too advanced website and it’s all in Italian), located right in the heart of the city on Piazza del Duomo. The prices are not yet set, but expect around 15 Euros. Opening hours are generous, there are late nights and also Monday afternoon visiting possibilities.

Heading that way earlier this year? There’s also a Van Gogh exhibition on until 8th of March. Milan easily has some of the best exhibitions in Europe this year.


5. Paris: Musée du Quay Branly – Tatoueurs, tatoués

6. May 2015 – 18. oct 2015


Best exhibitions in europe 2015: Tatoueurs-tatouésWe’ll have many reasons to come back to Paris this year, so a separate agenda will follow shortly, but one exhibition feels a bit out of the ordinary in regards to its uniqueness: the exhibition around the origins of tattooing. While a common part of our modern life today, it hasn’t always been that way, tattoos have rather been an exotic element from so-called “primitive” corners of the world, societies from the Oriental, Africa and Oceania. What meaning does it have today, and what were its origins in different cultures? Likely a journey to embark upon with many surprising stops.

The Quay du Branly Museum is closed on Mondays, but open until 7 pm weeknights and until 9 pm Thursday to Saturday. The museum is located not far from the Eiffel Tower and the admission fee is 11 Euros for both the temporary exhibition and the permanent collection (9 Euros for each individually). You can buy tickets online from


6. Copenhagen: Louisiana – AFRIKA

25. Jun 2015 – 25. oct 2015


Best exhibitions in europe 2015: Louisiana Afrika - Floating School

Copenhagen and Denmark in summertime are among the best city destinations you can find. For art lovers, heading out to the Louisiana Museum is a highlight, even if the weather wouldn’t cooperate. This summer the museum puts on an exhibition at the intersection of architecture, contemporary art and culture about Africa. This is the third installment in the museum’s ambitious project, where previously the Nordics and the Arab world were covered. Expect something out of the ordinary here as well, about society and life.

Louisiana is always up for something good, so check out the Louisiana agenda for the rest of the year as well. The Louisiana Museum is located north of Copenhagen in Humlebæk. It is closed on Mondays, but open late (10 pm) other weekdays and until 6 pm on the weekends. Admission is DKK 110 (approximately 15 Euros).


7. Liverpool: Tate Liverpool – Jackson Pollock

30. Jun 2015 – 18. Oct 2015


Best exhibitions in europe 2015: Yellow Islands 1952 by Jackson Pollock 1912-1956

Yellow Islands 1952 by Jackson Pollock 1912-1956

It’s possible that Liverpool isn’t usually high up on the choices for weekend getaways, but there are many reasons to think that this is changing. This year maybe using Jackson Pollock as an excuse, we and the world at large can discover the northern English city in its transformation into a modern exciting place?

The ‘Blind Spots‘ exhibition at the Tate will focus on a little-seen side of the abstract impressionist’s art, where Jackson Pollock departed from his signature action-painting technique of “colour dripping”. Most paintings in this exhibition are not so well-known, but the main star on display, the ‘Black Pourings’ is a famous masterpiece.

Admission to Tate’s special exhibition is £10 for adults, while the permanent collection can always be viewed for free. The museum is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. The museum is located on the Albert Dock on the river Mersey, just a short walk from the city centre.


8. London: Tate Britain – Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World

24. Jun 2015 – 25. Oct 2015


Best exhibitions in europe 2015: Pelagos 1946 by Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975

While August is by default not the strongest month for exhibition openings, there are of course still shows around, especially in a city like London. At Tate Britain a retrospective for the famous British sculptor Barbara Hepworth – during her lifetime based mainly in Cornwall – will be exhibited. Famous for her large-scale sculptors and forms, most famous for “Single Form’ which can be found outside the United Nations building in New York.

Tate Britain is open daily until 6 pm and the admission price for adults will be £18.00 (the museum is otherwise free). Tate Britain is located on the Millbank in central London.


9. Berlin: Gemäldegalerie – The Botticelli Renaissance

24. Sep 2015 – 24. Jan 2016


Best exhibitions in europe 2015: Tomoko_Nagao_Botticelli_The_Birth_of_Venus

As one of the greatest painters of the Florentine Renaissance, it might not be a surprise that Botticelli’s (1445-1510) works have been widely reproduced throughout history, especially since his “rediscovery” in the 19th century, after being almost forgotten for centuries. The aim of this exhibition is to understand how Botticelli evolved to become today’s icon of pop art. There will be 100 art works by different artists from all around the world showcasing this development, and 20 of Botticelli’s own works also join the show. An event easily classifying among the best exhibitions in Europe for 2015.

If you’d like to reacquaint yourself with Botticelli, Berlin is the perfect setting for this, it’s easily a city that we’d like to recommend over and over again. We tried already in the past to show some sides of it (see our Berlin archive) – and you can count on more.

The Botticelli Renaissance is on at the Gemäldegalerie at Berlin’s Kulturforum on Stauffenbergstraße 40. Tickets are not cheap, but count on high interest. You can buy your tickets in advance: Flexi-Ticket (any of three days when you might want to see an exhibition) – Tue-Thur 24 Euros or Fri-Sun 28 Euros.

Keen on checking out Berlin earlier? There’s also for instance the fashion photographer Mario Testino’s ‘In Your Face’ exhibition from January 20th until July 26th at the Kulturforum (9 Euros).


10. Madrid: Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza – Edvard Munch

6. Oct 2015 – 17. Jan 2016


Best exhibitions in Europe 2015: Edvard Munch Evening 1888

Edvard Munch – Evening (1888)

Autumn in Madrid sounds pretty perfect, don’t you agree? The Thyssen-Bornemisza (part of Madrid’s museum ‘Golden Triangle‘ together with the Prado and Reina Sofia) always has high quality exhibitions on, with themes from the 19th century onwards. No exceptions in the fall of ’15, when in collaboration with the Munch Museum from Oslo they will put on a show displaying works from throughout the life of the Norwegian artist. The exhibition is organised by themes instead of chronologically, showing the complexities of the artist’s mind.

The Thyssen-Bornemisza is open daily, usually until 7 pm, and the tickets normally cost around 10 Euros, or for combination tickets for several exhibitions a few Euros more. You can purchase your ticket online in advance here at the Thyssen website. The museum is located just off Plaza Neptuno, just a block from the Prado.


The end of the year is still well into the future, at least when it comes to having the schedules available for the main art venues around Europe. Thus, while we await the news to reach us about what there’s to come, we can in any case conclude that among the main exhibitions stretching well into the autumn season we can mention ‘The World Goes Pop’ at Tate Modern in London (17 September 2015 to 24 January 2016) and Ai Wei Wei at the Royal Academy of Arts at Burlington House (19 September 2015 to 13 December 2015). We’re sure there’ll be more and we’ll update these pages then – so please visit back!

In the meantime, enjoy 2015 with many pleasant city-breaks and weekend escapes – with some great art events to spice up your getaways. If you know of any other great event classifying for the “best exhibitions in Europe” list, unmissable event we haven’t mentioned – please leave a comment here below. And don’t forget to come back for more of our tips for the year: we plan on curating events for cities like Paris, London and Berlin for the near future, and around themes like photography and festivals.

Two New European Culture Capitals Ready to Embrace 2015

Pal UjvarosiArt Events, Art Projects, Europe, ExhibitionsLeave a Comment

European Culture Capitals 2015 - Plzen and Mons

Two New European Culture Capitals Embracing 2015

The European Capital of Culture 2015 title is shared between the city of Pilsen, Czech Republic, and the Belgian town of Mons. Are this year’s events going to be focused solely on beer and chocolate, or there’s more we can expect? For sure there will be much more – but what exactly? Below we’ll present the two cities more thoroughly.

One of the more interesting and varied cultural initiatives organised by the European Union is the designation of some selected cities as the cultural capitals of Europe for the period of one year. The concept is by now well-established, it’s been going on for decades, and in recent years it’s been expanding even. Here on Art Weekenders, already last year we got more closely acquainted to the concept, when we covered the European Capitals of Culture for 2014, and where especially one of the two nominees, Riga, caught our interest.

European Capital of Culture 2015 b

This year it’s time again. There are two different cities designated for the role, and as customary, the expectations are high. One of the more attractive facets of the concept is that there will never ever be two identical arrangements, not even by pure coincidence. The main focus of the European Capital of Culture idea is to give the organising city and its immediate surrounding region a chance to display itself for the world, but just as much to interact with its local “ecosystem“. This local focus makes the European Capital of Culture idea so unique, and why there will always be as many different programs as there are hosting cities. For instance one of the cities from last year, the Swedish Umeå, went for what we’d like to call a more introverted approach with focus on the local audience, where the appeal for foreigners was limited.

The choice for 2015 fell on two cities with great potential to attract an international audience and visits from many corners of the world. Pilsen (Plzen locally) in the Czech Republic is more famous than most people might even realise it, thanks to the famous pilsner beer, originating from the vaults of this very city. A beer which is still the pride of town. Mons, in Belgium, on the other hand is a town that likely gets sidestepped for its much more famous neighbours to the north, Bruges and Ghent, and of course for the country’s capital, Brussels.

We are convinced that both hosts are eager for us from far away lands to get to know them better.


Mons 2015 – A Cobblestoned Pedestrian Hidden Gem

Mons has a very strategic location: blessed in one respect in regards to historic trading routes, this became a curse in regards to major conflicts. One of the first big battles of the First World War took place just here outside town, and the first British soldier in what became a long war got killed here. Today, despite the good location, visitors tend to “miss” it, given the fierce domestic competition from the more renowned tourism magnets in the country.

Mons Grand Place

Mons, located on a hilltop (which is also the reason for its name, meaning “mountains” from the French mont, also reflected by the city’s Flemish name of Bergen), is a highly attractive city with a very rich historic heritage. Most of the city centre is pedestrianised, where cobblestoned streets circle the main square, the Grand Place. Architecturally it is dominated by red brick buildings, and it has many eye-catching, photo-opportunity inviting edifices spread across the entire city. Among the main highlights the ones definitely not to be forgotten at any visit are the Belfry (Le Beffroi), the Sainte-Waudru Collegiate Church, and of course the Grand Place where especially the Town Hall will attract your eyes.

Oh, and since just a week or two ago, right in time for the inauguration of the ‘Mons 2015’ year, there is something new, something modern to admire, representing a new, fresh image the city and its 100 thousand inhabitants are aiming for, the new architecturally splendid congress hall called the MICX.

Van Gogh Mons


Mons 2015 – From an Art Perspective

The European Capital of Culture year in Mons started from the very beginning with a big bang. As just pointed out, Mons has a new centre-piece as a symbol for the regeneration of the region. The MICXMons International Congress Experience – is the commissioned work of the famous Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind, inaugurated now to coincide with the European Capital of Culture year’s big opening. The actual grand opening for the ‘Mons 2015’ year is on January 24th. Judging from the early pictures, both the exterior and interior witness of something spectacular to look forward to visit, making a trip to Mons well worthy. And there’s more.



Van Gogh in the Borinage

Dates: 25th January to 17th May 2015 | Location: BAM – Beaux-Arts Mons, Rue Neuve 8

From an art point of view it’s going to be a busy year for the city. As we speak, some very expensive Van Gogh paintings are being packed up on the way to Wallonia for the opening of the exhibition ‘Van Gogh in the Borinage‘ as part of Van Gogh 2015. As it happens, the famous Dutch painter had a short spell in this region during his earlier career, just right before he decided to abandon preaching for the arts. This is a topic that we’re going to come back to – Netherlands-based as we are – in this very important Van Gogh year. Already now, feel free to visit our ArtSmart-friend Christina’s overview of the Van Gogh events for 2015.


8,000 Sunflowers on the Grand Place

Dates: 17th July to 26th July 2015 | Location: Grand Place

While strictly speaking not an art event per se, rather Van Gogh’s “models” posing on the city’s main square, the flower installation promises to be a memorable event that we think would be fun to join.

Mons Grand Place Sunflowers


The RedBall Project visiting Mons

Dates: 14th to 24th May 2015 | Location: Where you’ll the least expect it in the centre.

You might recall Kurt Perschke‘s amazing Red Ball that we featured at several occasions last year? Well, this very same RedBall Project is going to pay a visit to Mons in May. Kurt was already scouting the place just before Christmas.


And in the Street They Did Arise

Dates: 4th April to 21st September 2015 | Location: Mons Intramuros, Grand Place.

As part of the ‘Art in the City and Trails’ program, contemporary artists are invited to present their series of “street-corner arisings”, mystically described in the program as not intended to be open-air exhibitions of contemporary art, but rather as interventions. Well, we’re a bit curious in any case.


Doudou Festival

Dates: 31 May to 7th June 2015 | Location: Grand Place

An overview of Mons would be worth nothing if the yearly festival of ‘Doudou’ wouldn’t be mentioned. With origins as far back as 1349 this is the city’s big party, when Saint George and the Dragon are at the root of all the happenings. It’s a popular event, where food, performances, music and beer are at the centre of the attention.


… And much more…

As quite often with the European Capital of Culture events, it’s hard to even know what’s there you are going to like. It’s often about experiencing and discovering new events so to say. This way, we’re sure that also the jam-packed Mons 2015 program will offer something for everybody.


Plzen 2015 – More than “Just” Beer Culture

The city of Pilsen (Plzen in Czech) – located in the Western part of the Czech Republic, just a short distance from the German border – has its roots some thousand years back in time, while eventually gaining city status at the end of the thirteenth century. The West Bohemian city, the fourth largest in the country, is the home to some 170,000 proud inhabitants. It has always been an important hub for the region, thanks to its very favourable location on the crossroads from Prague into Germany. Being in the “right” location helped it to quickly evolve as a major trading hub and with favourable economic circumstances usually also comes an upswing in cultural and humanistic development. No exception in Pilsen.



Pilsen even managed to become the royal capital at the very end of the 16th century; although for just a short period, the city to this day proudly calls itself a royal city. Its importance also left traces that we can admire to this day, where the entire historic centre is plotted with beautiful medieval and renaissance buildings with the Republic Square as the main focal point. One of the largest squares in Europe, it remains the main venue for cultural and open-air events, like festivals and markets and the place where you inevitably will end up as a visitor – an occasion you won’t regret.

While it is less likely that you will end up underground by mistake, the city has one of the most extensive underground networks in the world. Developed over several centuries, this is a maze of cellars, corridors and wells, stretching some 20 kilometres in total. While exploring the undergrounds you will also come across what really puts this city on the world map: the history of its breweries, all presented in the Brewery Museum. It is after all the fame of its beer that usually takes you to this city, where the famous brand Pilsner Urquell is by far one of the most known names in the trade, a beer brewed here in the city since 1842. The clear and refined taste of the pilsner style beer originates here, where the fine waters of the city put it aside from any other beer of its kind.

Pilsen Cathedral


Plzen 2015 – What’s there for the Art Lovers?

The European Capital of Culture 2015 kicked off in Pilsen in mid-January. While the opening is now taken care of, the big party is just about to start. At the very heart of Plzen 2015’s program for the year are the performing arts and more exactly performances in tents. To be really precise: circus tents. The modern version of a circus will be a centre-piece all along this year’s cultural events in Pilsen, but there is plenty around for among others the visual art lovers too.


Smetana Days in Pilsen

Dates: 2nd to 29th March 2015 | Location: Various locations.

The festival honouring the Czech composer Bedrich Smetana will be an extravagant event  for all classical music lovers during the month of March. Going into its 35th edition, the festival will honour the famous Bohemian composer in ten concerts around the city, where coexistence between Austrians, Germans and Czechs is at the core of this year’s program.


Zen Pilsen, The City as an Exhibition

Dates: 1st April to 31st October 2015 | Location: Various locations.

With the help of artistic interventions during the entire summer period, different parts of the city centre will be transformed to showcase it from a different light. The intention is to draw attention to neglected and shabby parts of the city centre for the people to start looking at these areas, that is their own city, with different eyes. A big promise – and we’re curious for the outcome.


Gottfried Lindauer, Maoris Portraits

Dates: 6th May to 20th September 2015 | Location: West Bohemian Museum

You could be forgiven for wondering what the Maoris from New Zealand have to do with Pilsen, but as it turns out the Pilsen-born Gottfried Lindauer was one of the most eminent painters of the aboriginal population in the land of the Kiwis. This exhibition consists of 120 works of art on loan from the National Gallery in Auckland.

Pilsen City view


Ladislav Sutnar, Applied Art

Dates: 14th May to 8th November 2015 | Location: West Bohemian Museum

Given that Pilsen is a largely industrial city, it’s no surprise that technology and applied arts play an important role in the year’s program. Ladislav Sutnar was born in Pilsen (1897) and at the centre of this exhibition we can find “the functionalist housing culture and the purposeful promotion of the modern lifestyle”. Or maybe more clearly put: it’s an exhibition about all the practical household items created by the world-famous Sutnar during his career.


…Plus so much more

The motto for Pilsen 2015 is ‘Pilsen, Open Up!‘. Yes, there is a canny reference to a beer bottle, but also some more. The city will be true to this motto throughout the year: museums, art galleries, theatres and streets will all be ready for visitors to surprise them pretty much around every corner, all year round.

Pilsen Synagogue


European Capital of Culture 2015 x 2 – Welcoming You

Thus, two cities, two different cultural programs to look forward to, with a bit of everything for everyone – where most importantly the idea of letting yourself be surprised should always be at the core of a visit. We certainly think that both places come across as very attractive cities with interesting events planned, thus, we look forward to get to know them better during the course of the year – and our hope is to maybe even pay a visit to both. We hope you will too.

You can find more information about the two European Capital of Culture 2015 host cities on their respective official websites: and